Congressman asks feds to investigate former Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant’s welfare spending influence

Published 5:45 am Saturday, July 16, 2022

By Adam Ganucheau

Mississippi Today 

Mississippi congressman U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson wrote a letter on Friday to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, asking for a Department of Justice investigation into former Gov. Phil Bryant’s influence over the possible misspending of federal welfare funds.

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Bryant, who was Mississippi governor from 2012-2020, was first publicly accused of wrongdoing this week by key defendants in the state’s ongoing civil case regarding the sprawling welfare scandal. The defendants specifically said Bryant directed them to pay former NFL quarterback Brett Favre $1.1 million in welfare funds, among other grant spending.

“This gross misuse of (welfare grant) dollars must illicit a review of former Governor Phil Bryant’s involvement,” Thompson wrote. “Such an investigation should also examine the intolerable activity of retired NFL quarterback Brett Favre and how his actions were aided by Governor Bryant.”

In his letter, Thompson referenced Mississippi Today’s “The Backchannel” investigative series, which first examined Bryant’s role in the scandal using never-before-published text messages shared with the news organization.

“It is egregious that news reports produce critical information that has yet to be addressed in the current investigations by state and local agencies,” Thompson wrote.

Thompson is not the first to call for a federal investigation of the former governor. In April, following initial publication of Mississippi Today’s “The Backchannel” series, the national president of the NAACP wrote a letter to Garland asking for a federal investigation.

This story is reprinted with permission by Mississippi Today.