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REPORT: New Texts Confirm Gov. Tate Reeves’ Ties to Landmark Mississippi Corruption Deeper than Previously Revealed

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REPORT: New Texts Confirm Gov. Tate Reeves’ Ties to Landmark Mississippi Corruption Deeper than Previously Revealed

A new report from Mississippi Today provides stunning new details into Gov. Tate Reeves’ entanglements in the largest public corruption scandal in Mississippi history.

Newly released texts — which state attorneys previously spent months fighting to keep under wraps — show that Reeves’ brother served as a go-between for former NFL star Brett Favre and the governor, including that he “arranged conversations in early 2020 with Gov. Reeves so that Favre could ask for the governor’s help in funding the University of Southern Mississippi volleyball stadium, one of the centerpieces of the ongoing welfare scandal.”

These findings are the latest to contradict Reeves’ claim that the scandal did not take place on his watch, and come after Reeves has faced intense scrutiny for firing the prosecutor appointed to investigate the $77 million that were lost, stolen, or embezzled on Reeves’ watch — after that prosecutor sought information about the $5 million in taxpayer dollars used to finance Favre’s volleyball stadium project at USM.

“For Gov. Tate Reeves, corruption is a family affair, and these new texts are more proof that Reeves was more deeply enmeshed in Mississippi’s landmark corruption scandal than he will ever admit — including well into his term as governor,” said DGA Deputy Communications Director Izzi Levy. “Why is Gov. Reeves lying about his role in this scandal, why did his administration fight to keep these texts from being released, and what else is he hiding from Mississippians?”

Read more on the latest in Gov. Tate Reeves’ role in Mississippi’s landmark corruption scandal:

  • Gov. Tate Reeves’ brother coordinated with state Auditor Shad White on damage control for former NFL star Brett Favre after an audit first revealed in 2020 that the athlete had received more than $1 million in welfare funds, according to text messages the governor’s political campaign released Thursday.
  • Todd Reeves, Favre’s friend, had also arranged conversations in early 2020 with Gov. Reeves so that Favre could ask for the governor’s help in funding the University of Southern Mississippi volleyball stadium, one of the centerpieces of the ongoing welfare scandal.
  • Mississippi Today cannot verify if the Reeves campaign released all of the texts sought by the litigation because the news outlet has not been allowed to view the requested records. The Reeves campaign did not respond to follow-up questions about the completeness of the records they released on Thursday, and the attorney general’s office declined to comment.
  • In the early days of Gov. Reeves’ current term, Favre used Todd Reeves as a way to communicate with the governor. Favre, who endorsed Gov. Reeves in his election months earlier, was hoping the governor would help him find public funding to pay for the completed construction of a volleyball stadium at University of Southern Mississippi. Favre had made a guarantee to the university. If he didn’t find the funding somewhere, Favre would have to pay out of his own pocket. According to texts previously released, Todd Reeves would facilitate lines of communication for the athlete.
  • At this time, the USM project had already received at least $5 million in funding from the federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, which is supposed to provide monthly cash assistance to very poor families, through a nonprofit run by Nancy New.
  • Within days and weeks of Favre’s communication with the Reeves brothers in early 2020, the auditor would arrest the two top welfare officials who had been working with Favre and the volleyball project would be outed as part of a sprawling scheme to misuse tens of millions of welfare funds.
  • On election day in November 2019, Favre texted then-Gov. Bryant, “I know it’s Election Day and you are probably busy but while we know who our Governor is presently not to mention arguably the most popular and influential I want to stay on your radar. If our guy wins I’ll feel better about things but if the other guy wins I feel like Nancy and I can forget our vision for Southern Miss.”
  • “That’s one reason I have been pushing Tate so hard,” Bryant responded. “He has to win. Then we set up a meeting on Wellness Center at USM.”
  • Gov. Reeves did win, and in late January of 2020, Todd Reeves set up a phone call for Favre and the governor to discuss funding. About a week later, as White was preparing to make arrests, Favre expressed his desire to take Gov. Reeves to see the volleyball stadium, texting, “and it would only be us. I want you to see what your (sic) trying to help me for.”
  • It’s unclear if Gov. Reeves actually pushed to include funding for the facility in a legislative or other kind of appropriation, but his brother certainly gave Favre the impression that he would.
  • “I think the angle Tate is looking at is a bond bill according to Todd his brother,” Favre texted Bryant on Feb. 7, 2020, as the fallout from the arrests was still materializing.

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