Brett Favre Sues Shannon Sharpe, Pat McAfee for Defamation Over Welfare Fraud Allegations
Former Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre filed three separate defamation lawsuits on Thursday against national sports commentators Shannon Sharpe and Pat McAfee as well as state auditor Shad White, ESPN reports.
Favre is currently embroiled in a 2020 fraud case involving $77 million in welfare spending that was misappropriated and embezzled by non-profits and the Mississippi Department of Human Services.
The lawsuit against Sharpe, who co-hosts FS1’s Skip and Shannon: Undisputed, claims that Sharpe defamed Favre by calling him a “sorry mofo to steal from the lowest of the low,” and that Favre “stole money from people that really needed that money.” Similar allegations have been brought against NFL personality and former punter McAfee. The suit claims that McAfee called the Hall of Famer a “thief” who was “stealing from poor people in Mississippi” during a podcast episode of the The Pat McAfee Show.
Favre has also accused White—whose office was first to discover the fraudulent spending, per the report—of defamation, and accuses the state auditor of “shamelessly and falsely attacking Favre’s good name” to advance his political career. “White has made egregiously false and defamatory statements accusing Favre of ‘stealing taxpayer funds’ and knowingly misusing funds ‘designed to serve poor folks,'” the lawsuit reads.
In a statement to ESPN, a spokesperson for White’s office stated that the auditor’s work was “true.”
“Everything Auditor White has said about this case is true and is backed by years of audit work by the professionals at the Office of the State Auditor,” Fletcher Freeman, the spokesman, wrote.
Although Favre is not facing criminal charges in the Mississippi welfare scandal, he is among more than three dozen people or businesses the state is suing to recoup misspent money through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.
Favre became involved in the case after a state audit and civil lawsuit named Favre as a defendant and stated that he received $1.1 million in TANF funds for speeches White said Favre never made. Although Favre eventually paid the money back, the state auditor has requested that Favre also pay $228,000 in interest.
Favre was also suspended from the The SiriusXM Blitz show last September after alleged text messages revealed that Favre had pushed for $5 million from the federal welfare fund to go toward construction of a volleyball facility at the University of Southern Mississippi—Favre’s alma mater and where his daughter was on the volleyball team at the time. (“If you were to pay me is there anyway the media can find out where it came from and how much?” Favre texted nonprofit founder Nancy New, a friend of former Mississippi governor Phil Bryant’s wife.)
“Mr. Favre has called Auditor White and his team liars despite repaying some of the money our office demanded from him,” Freeman said Thursday, per ESPN. “He’s also claimed the auditors are liars despite clear documentary evidence showing he benefited from misspent funds. Instead of paying New York litigators to try this case, he’d be better off fully repaying the amount of welfare funds he owes the state.”
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