Election conspiracy theorists jailed in Texas trial


HOUSTON– Leaders of a Texas-based group that promotes election conspiracy theories were jailed on Monday for failing to comply with a court order to provide information in a defamation lawsuit relating to some of their claims .

Catherine Engelbrecht and Gregg Phillips, who run True the Vote, have been arrested by U.S. Marshals, according to an order signed by U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt in Houston. They will be held for at least one day or “until they fully comply with the court order,” Hoyt wrote.

Houston-based True the Vote provided research for a debunked documentary that alleged widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election. Engelbrecht, Phillips, and their nonprofit are being sued by election software provider Konnech Inc., based in Michigan, for True the Vote’s allegations of a China-related conspiracy involving information from US election officials.

Alfredo Perez, a spokesman for the US Marshals Service in Houston, said Monday that Engelbrecht and Phillips were in the custody of law enforcement.

True the Vote said in a statement read during a live video stream Monday that its attorneys would appeal Hoyt’s decision.

Konnech provides election software used to recruit and train election officials. He accused Engelbrecht, Phillips and their group of falsely claiming that Konnech stored US election officials’ personal information on an unsecured server in China.

The lawsuit also alleges that True the Vote executives illegally downloaded from Konnech’s server the personal data of 1.8 million US voters.

Konnech claims that all US customer data is secure and stored on “protected computers in the United States”.

Hoyt issued a temporary restraining order earlier in October telling Engelbrecht and Phillips to return all data belonging to Konnech and reveal the names of everyone who helped access it.

During a court hearing last week, Phillips declined to reveal the name of an analyst who reviewed the data.

True the Vote quoted Engelbrecht in its statement as saying the group did not believe the person was covered by Hoyt’s disclosure order.

The Konnech lawsuit accuses Engelbrecht and Phillips of “racism and xenophobia” by making “baseless claims” that “the Chinese Communist Party somehow controls US elections through Konnech because its founder and some of its employees are of Chinese origin”.

Konnech CEO and founder Eugene Yu, 65, is a Chinese-born naturalized U.S. citizen, according to his attorneys. He has lived with his family in Michigan for over 20 years.

Engelbrecht and Phillips pointed out that Los Angeles County prosecutors recently charged Yu with grand larceny by embezzlement and conspiracy to commit a felony.

Prosecutors allege Konnech violated its contract with Los Angeles County by sending election worker information to a China-based contractor who helped fix Konnech software.

Gary S. Lincenberg, one of Yu’s attorneys, denied the allegations.

“This is a deeply flawed lawsuit that attempts to criminalize what is, at best, a civil breach of contract claim involving election worker management software,” Lincenberg said in a court filing last week.

True the Vote’s allegations of voter fraud have been widely discredited.

Analysis of cell phone data by True the Vote was used by conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza in his film ‘2000 Mules’ in an attempt to show that Democratic operatives were being paid to illegally collect and deposit ballots in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. .

Independent fact checkers, including The Associated Press, have found that True the Vote has not proven its claims. Election security experts say it is based on faulty assumptions, anonymous accounts and incorrect analysis of cellphone location data. Georgia election officials also said the claims were false.

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Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter: https://twitter.com/juanlozano70

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Associated Press writer Terry Wallace in Dallas contributed to this report.



ABC News

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