The former Mississippi official whose tweet may have inspired President Trump to order a “major investigation” into voter fraud in the 2016 presidential election says he has been receiving death threats.
“There are people who want to kill me,” ex-welfare head Gregg Phillips told The Clarion-Ledger. “It’s insane.”
PolitiFact and others have traced the original claim regarding fraud on Election Day to Phillips, who in the past has been accused of profiting from connections he made while serving in government — something he has denied.
After Trump’s victory, Phillips tweeted out, “We have verified more than three million votes cast by non-citizens. We are joining @truethevote to initiate legal action.”
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Then he tweeted: “Completed analysis of database of 180 million voter registrations. Number of non-citizen votes exceeds 3 million. Consulting legal team.”
InfoWars published a story with the headline, “Report: Three Million Votes in Presidential Election Cast by Illegal Aliens. Trump may have won popular vote.” The Drudge Report picked up the story, too.
Asked if the 3 million votes cast by non-citizens is accurate, Phillips responded, “That’s our opinion based on our research and analysis that we conducted and are prepared to stand by. If I’m wrong, I’m just going to say I’m wrong. I screwed up.”
He paused and said, “I’m not wrong.”
He said he collected and analyzed more than 180 million voting records, using his algorithm. He said he had also analyzed records since ballots were cast.
He is a board member of True the Vote, which sued in 2014 to get Mississippi’s voting records, but failed. Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said sharing the records would violate privacy.
Despite that, Phillips said he had a specific number for how many non-citizen votes were cast in Mississippi on Nov. 8, but wouldn’t share what that number was.
“I’m just a guy putting a tweet,” he said. “All social media seems like fake news, especially Twitter.”
After posting that tweet, he said he has received death threats and been falsely accused of being an Israeli or Russian spy.
Trump, who won the Electoral College, has said the only reason he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton was 3 million or more illegal votes.
“Of those (illegal) votes cast, none of them come to me,” he told ABC News. “They would all be for the other side.”
In 1993, then-Mississippi Gov. Kirk Fordice, the state’s first Republican governor, nominated Phillips to head the Mississippi Department of Human Services.
In its background check, the Mississippi Joint Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review discovered a discrepancy in Phillips’ resume, but the state Senate still approved his nomination.
In 1994, many lawmakers became angry when Phillips signed a contract with a Virginia-based private company to privatize child support collection in two counties.
After resigning a year later, he came under fire when PEER accused him of a likely conflict of interest by working for a company that had received an $878,000 contract from the agency.
“Mr. Phillips’ actions create the appearance of impropriety, facilitating an erosion of the public trust,” PEER wrote.
Phillips told The Clarion-Ledger then that he took a position with a firm affiliated with a company that had a contract supporting Learn, Earn and Prosper (LEAP), a literacy program he backed as agency head.
A week after leaving the agency in 1995, he was hired by Synesis Corp., a division of Centec Learning, he said. Centec had a contract to lease mobile learning labs to the University of Mississippi as part of LEAP.
Phillips insisted to The Clarion-Ledger that he had not benefited financially from the deal.
In 2005, Phillips came under fire again when The Houston Chronicle linked him to private deals while he was serving as deputy commissioner for Texas’ Health and Human Services.
The Chronicle wrote: “When former Mississippi official and Texas Deputy Health and Human Services Commissioner Gregg Phillips and private consultant Chris Britton helped write the $1 billion legislation to privatize Texas’ human services system, they apparently did so partly with an eye on profit: their own.”
According to the Chronicle, Britton’s company joined with one founded by Phillips to get a $670,000 state contract in January 2004 from the Workforce Commission, a state agency run by one of Phillips’ longtime friends.
Britton and Phillips primarily drafted the bill during the 2003 legislative session in Texas, according to the newspaper.
Phillips denied any wrongdoing.
Mississippi Sen. John Hohrn, D-Jackson, a critic of Phillips, said he wasn’t surprised that the former welfare head was now insisting 3 million non-citizens have voted, saying, “Greg’s always been a little loose with the truth.”
Joe Adams, research coordinator for Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, a good government think tank, knows Phillips.
“People shouldn’t believe fairytales from people who refuse to show their data,” he said. “If you can’t put it up, then you should shut up. The truth still matters, but only if we act like grownups and take it seriously.”