NFL legend Brett Favre, who has become a central figure in ongoing coverage of the Mississippi welfare scandal, has hired former Trump White House attorney Eric Herschmann as his lead counsel, Axios first reported on Monday.
Favre has been a subject of Mississippi Today and national reporting this year for being the inspiration behind at least $8 million in welfare misspending. In recent weeks, several sponsors have reportedly distanced themselves from the the Hall of Fame quarterback and native Mississippian.
Text messages first reported by Mississippi Today this year show Favre communicated regularly and directly with welfare officials about using federal grant money to construct a volleyball stadium at the University of Southern Mississippi, his alma mater and where his daughter played volleyball.
A Mississippi Today investigation earlier this year also chronicled how Favre and his business partner in a pharmaceutical startup company offered stock to former Gov. Phil Bryant in exchange for the governor’s help advancing the company. That venture also received more than $2 million in welfare funds.
While he has not been charged with a crime, Favre is facing civil charges in an ongoing lawsuit the state is bringing against several people and companies that received welfare funds. He repaid the state $1.1 million that he personally received from a welfare-funded nonprofit under an advertising agreement, which allegedly included speaking engagements he never attended.
Mississippi Today first reported last month that Favre and the nonprofit appear to have entered the advertising arrangement as a way to channel more funds to the USM volleyball project.
“I only agreed to represent Brett Favre after I did my independent due diligence and was convinced that he did nothing wrong,” Herschmann told Axios. “Brett enthusiastically tried to help his alma mater, a public university, that needed and wanted his help.”
Herschmann continued: “To be clear, Brett had no idea that welfare funds were being used or that others were involved in illegal conduct.”