Favre suing state auditor for ‘shamelessly and falsely attacking... good name’

Former Green Bay Packers' Brett Favre during a halftime ceremony  of an NFL football game...
Former Green Bay Packers' Brett Favre during a halftime ceremony of an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys Sunday, Oct. 16, 2016, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Matt Ludtke) (Matt Ludtke | AP)
Published: Feb. 9, 2023 at 4:21 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A former NFL quarterback linked to the largest welfare scandal in Mississippi history is suing the state auditor for “shamelessly and falsely attacking his good name.”

On Thursday, Brett Favre filed suit in Hinds County Circuit Court seeking damages against Auditor Shad White, alleging that the auditor attacked Favre to advance his political career and to gain national attention.

“White has gained national media attention he previously could have only dreamed of, including appearances on television shows on CNN and HBO, a popular ESPN podcast, as well as interviews for print and online media,” Favre’s attorneys wrote. “None of these national media outlets would have paid White the slightest attention had he not been attacking Favre.”

Officials in White’s office are firing back, saying “everything Auditor White has said about this case is true and is backed by years of audit work by the professionals at the office.”

“Mr. Favre has called Auditor White and his team liars, despite repaying some of the money our office demanded from him. He’s also claimed the auditors are lairs, despite clear documentary evidence showing he benefited from misspent funds,” spokesman Fletcher Freeman said.

Favre repaid $1.1 million in Temporary Assistance for Needy Family funds, money he was paid to give speeches on behalf of Families First of Mississippi, a nonprofit at the center of the scandal. However, he did not pay the interest on that amount.

Favre, a Mississippi native, played for the University of Southern Mississippi before playing 20 years for the Green Bay Packers. During that time, he led the Packers to two Super Bowl appearances, winning one.

Favre’s attorneys say White initially applauded the retired quarterback for paying back the funds, but later “reversed course... seeking press attention for his forthcoming reelection.”

On September 15, 2022, for instance, the auditor appeared on CNN saying “we know that Mr. Favre not only knew that he was received money from this nonprofit, which was funded by taxpayer dollars. We know that the funding for that was a sham, and we know that he knows that too.”

Days later, he appeared on an ESPN podcast saying the quarterback “knew that the money was flowing through a nonprofit which was designed to serve poor folks, designed to serve a public interest,” court records state.

“White acted with malice, and with knowledge of the falsity of the defamatory statements, or at a minimum with reckless disregard for their falsity by purposely avoiding the truth,” the quarterback’s claim states.

Favre is seeking actual and punitive damages, court costs, pre- and post-judgement interest on amounts awarded, as well as any other relief to which he “may show himself justly to be entitled.”

WLBT’s C.J. Lemaster and Howard Ballou contributed to this report.

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