Donald Trump’s Georgia campaign director stepped down Tuesday after he was confronted with a report by Channel 2 Action News revealing his past criminal record.
Court records obtained by the network show Brandon Phillips pleaded guilty to criminal trespassing charges in 2008 after he admitted he destroyed a laptop and slashed another person’s tires in Bibb County. He was sentenced under first offender status to three years on probation and ordered to pay $1,500 in restitution.
He also was arrested in Atlanta later that year after an altercation with a neighbor at his townhome complex that authorities say involved a gun. He completed a pretrial diversion program.
A campaign spokesman said Tuesday that Phillips will be replaced by Billy Kirkland, a Trump senior adviser in Georgia and former aide to U.S. Sen. David Perdue.
Phillips was hired as state director of Trump’s Georgia operation in October after the abrupt departure of Seth Weathers, a GOP strategist. He helped orchestrate the New York businessman’s March primary victory in Georgia and worked to wrangle skeptical Peach State Republican delegates to support Trump’s nomination at the party’s July convention.
He’s also been an aggressive frontman for the campaign’s battle to keep Georgia in the GOP column. Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign has added staff here and pumped a six-figure investment into her efforts in the state, though a spate of recent polls show Trump has carved out a slim, if consistent, lead in Georgia.
His sudden departure from the campaign stunned many GOP operatives. Other top Trump aides have resigned after embarrassing revelations, including the campaign’s top North Carolina operative who stepped down amid allegations he pulled a gun on a fellow staffer in February. But Phillips’ crime took place eight years ago, and several strategists say it was widely disclosed in political circles.