Trump Claim of Voter Fraud Stems From Former Texas Politico

**The man behind President Donald Trump's dubious claims that millions of people voted illegally has a troubled history in Texas and Mississippi.In a Twitter post early Friday, Trump cited Gregg Phillips' repeated contention that 3 million people illegally cast ballots in last year's general election.Phillips has made the assertion in his own tweets, which have been repeated on social media thousand of times in recent weeks.But he has provided no documentation to back them up. And experts are highly skeptical about his claims.A Republican affiliated with a group called VoterStand, Phillips previously worked at several state health agencies, where he was criticized for making decisions that benefited himself and his business associates.Phillips has denied improper efforts to steer contracts, and said in the past he broke no rules or laws. On Friday, he told The Dallas Morning News that he has "never profited'' from his government work.As The News has reported, Phillips presided over privatization initiatives as Mississippi's human services chief in the 1990s. State legislators accused him of creating "an appearance of impropriety" by awarding a company a $557,000 contract and then going to work for it. Phillips said he was cleared by that state's ethics commission of wrongdoing.He later joined Texas Health and Human Services. In 2009, The News reported that he had championed efforts to turn over government work to private contractors. These deals were supposed to save money, but some were plagued by cost overruns and technical problems.One project, replacing state welfare administrators with call center companies, cost taxpayers more than $250 million but didn’t work properly for years. Phillips said those problems occurred after he left office, and that his efforts led to other savings to Texas that weren't reported.The Houston Chronicle raised questions about whether Phillips personally profited from decisions he made when he was with the Texas agency. He won government outsourcing contracts from Texas after leaving his state job in 2004.In 2015, Phillips was again the subject of newspaper reports involving government contracts with a tech company.An Austin technology firm, 21CT, had procured a multimillion-dollar contract with the Texas health agency, without competitive bidding. The official who approved that deal, who was later fired, had worked for Phillips and Phillips had introduced him to the head of 21CT.Phillips told The News on Friday that he will release his data proving that 3 million people "committed multiple felonies'' by voting in the election. But he refused to cite a date, as he has numerous times in interviews with news outlets. "We're going to be cautious,'' he said, "that we have eliminated most possibilities of a false positive in the data.''Staff writer David McSwane contributed to this story.  Continue reading...

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