Gov. Phil Bryant ponders a response to a question regarding his legacy following a life of public service, while sitting in his Jackson, Miss., Capitol office, Jan. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

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.

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 (elicit) 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.”

READ MORE: Gov. Phil Bryant directed $1.1 million welfare payment to Brett Favre, defendant says

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.

READ MORE: Phil Bryant had his sights on a payout as welfare funds flowed to Brett Favre

Read the letter in full below:

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Adam Ganucheau, as Mississippi Today's editor-in-chief, oversees the newsroom and works with the editorial team to fulfill our mission of producing high-quality journalism in the public interest. Adam has covered politics and state government for Mississippi Today since February 2016. A native of Hazlehurst, Adam has worked as a staff reporter for AL.com, The Birmingham News and The Clarion-Ledger and his work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Adam earned his bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Mississippi.