Pro Football Hall of Famer Brett Favre has finally addressed accusations of his role in a Mississippi welfare funds scandal.
"I have been unjustly smeared in the media," Favre said in a statement provided exclusively to FOX News on Tuesday (October 11). "I have done nothing wrong, and it is past time to set the record straight.
"No one ever told me, and I did not know, that funds designated for welfare recipients were going to the University or me. I tried to help my alma mater USM, a public Mississippi state university, raise funds for a wellness center. My goal was and always will be to improve the athletic facilities at my university.
Last month, newly released text messages sent by Favre showed that the quarterback was more involved in pushing for millions of federal welfare funds to be diverted in his home state of Mississippi than previously known, Mississippi Today's Anna Wolfe, who initially reported that Favre had received the federal grant funds, reported.
The messages, which were released in a court filing, showed that Favre pushed for at least $5 million in funds initially intended to help poor families instead be paid toward a new volleyball facility at his alma mater, the University of Southern Mississippi, where his daughter played the sport.
Additionally, messages showed that the former quarterback sought reassurance from nonprofit founder Nancy New -- 13 felony counts of bribery, fraud and racketeering in relation to the incident -- that the public would never become aware that he was attempting to receive millions in grants that were coming from the Mississippi welfare agency, NBC News reports.
"State agencies provided the funds to Nancy New’s charity, the Mississippi Community Education Center, which then gave the funds to the University, all with the full knowledge and approval of other State agencies, including the State-wide Institute for Higher Learning, the Governor’s office and the Attorney General’s office," Favre said in the statement to FOX News on Tuesday.
"I was told that the legal work to ensure that these funds could be accepted by the university was done by State attorneys and State employees."
The text messages released last month included Favre asking New in August 2017, "If you were to pay me is there anyway the media can find out where it came from and how much?" Favre asked New in August 2017.
New told Favre, "we never have that information publicized," before notifying him that then-Governor Phil Bryant was "on board with us" and "we will get this done" the following day.
Farve later sent a text to New in December 2017 confirming he'd received the payment.
"Nancy Santa came today and dropped some money off,” Favre wrote with two smiley faces. “Thank you my goodness thank you. We need to set up the promo soon. Your way to kind.”
Favre had publicly claimed that he didn't know the funds were welfare dollars and the messages don't prove otherwise.
Additionally, tax records obtained by the Athletic showed that Favre's charitable foundation funneled more than $130,000 intended for disadvantaged children and cancer patients.
The records state that the non-profit Favre 4 Hope "significantly increased its contributions" while the former quarterback was funding the Southern Mississippi volleyball facility.
Favre 4 Hope donated $60,000 to the USM Athletic Foundation in 2018, $46,817 in 2019 and $26,175 in 2020, according to the tax records.
The charity had also previously donated $60,000 to Oak Grove High in Hattiesburg, where his daughter had played volleyball at the time, in 2015.
Favre 4 Hope was launched in 1995 "to provide financial assistance" for "underserved and disabled children in Mississippi and Wisconsin" and extended its "mission statement to include organizations providing financial aid for breast cancer patients" after Favre's wife, Deanna, completed her treatment for breast cancer in 2005, according to the organization's website.
NBC News initially reported that Favre was questioned by the FBI in relation to the situation, however, there is no indication that the Hall of Famer is the target of the FBI's criminal investigation.
Mississippi is the poorest state in the U.S., with an estimated 200,000 children living below the poverty line, according to U.S. Census data via NBC News.
In August, Governor Tate Reeves announced Jackson, the state's largest and capital city, was without a reliable water supply after its main water treatment facility failed, which is an ongoing crisis.
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