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Former Governor Phil Bryant releasing all text messages related to welfare scandal

Photo by SuperTalk Mississippi News

Former Governor Phil Bryant announced Thursday that he will be releasing all text messages and emails related to the state’s largest embezzlement scandal.

The decision from Bryant comes after lawsuits were filed by the Mississippi Free Press, Mississippi Today, and the Daily Journal requesting all communications from the former governor related to the misuse of millions in welfare funds.

“The fact is I did nothing wrong. I wasn’t aware of the wrongdoings of others,” Bryant said. “What you will find in these text messages is a busy man, a governor of a state communicating in a kind and consistent manner to everyone with whom I dealt. I communicated with hundreds of people every week to accomplish good and to help run state government the best way I knew how.”

As the scandal began to unravel, state auditor Shad White revealed on SuperTalk Mississippi’s The Gallo Show in February 2020 that Bryant was the whistleblower.

“We would not have found out about this without somebody coming forward to the auditor’s office and letting us know, and that person, in this case, was Governor Phil Bryant,” White said at the time.

Bryant used the video to remind people of his whistleblower status. The former governor, who served from 2012-2020, is not currently listed in a civil suit filed by the Mississippi Department of Human Services and seeking to recover $94 million in misspent funds.

“When I received evidence that suggested people appeared to be misappropriating funds, I immediately reported that to the agency whose job it is to investigate these matters,” Bryant said.

Regarding the construction of a $5 million volleyball facility at Southern Miss with money intended for needy families, Bryant said he played no role in spearheading the project at his alma mater.

“As for the Southern Miss volleyball center, over a dozen lawyers from multiple entities approved the transactions,” Bryant said. “Even if I wanted to make an expenditure like that happen, I didn’t have the power to do so.”

The full video from Bryant can be watched below.

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