MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As political scandals go, the one playing out in Mississippi is a doozy. It has all the ingredients you would want – celebrity, greed, betrayal, cover-up – and the Robin Hood effect, only in reverse. Because this scandal involves stealing from the poor to give to the rich.
At the center of it all is former Governor Phil Bryant. Evidence disclosed in an ongoing lawsuit and through aggressive news reporting shows Bryant steered millions in federal welfare dollars to help pro football legend Brett Favre build a volleyball stadium at his alma mater, the University of Southern Mississippi.
Recently revealed text messages show Bryant personally directed Favre how to obtain the money from the state Department of Human Services, and even helped concoct a plan to say that the volleyball facility would also be used to provide welfare services. Text messages also show that Favre was concerned about the media finding out about the plot. But he was assured by Bryant and others that the plan would work.
Once the scheme started to unravel, Favre denied discussing the stadium with Bryant, and the former governor denied being involved at all.
But now that the truth is coming out, it points to one of the most sordid scandals in state history. And several people, possibly including Bryant, could be facing prison time.
It also proves the old adage that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.