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Tipsheet

Federal Judge Jails True the Vote Leaders After Contempt Ruling

AP Photo/Charles Krupa

True the Vote founder Catherine Engelbrecht and former board member Gregg Phillips were taken into federal custody on Monday after U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt found them in contempt of court for refusing to disclose a confidential informant. 

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It is the latest development in a defamation case brought against them by election management software company Konnech, which the group claims allowed the Chinese government to have access to a server with the personal information of nearly 2 million election workers in the U.S. 

The Texas Tribune has the backstory: 

Konnech, the election management software company at the center of those claims, filed a federal lawsuit in September alleging that True the Vote’s viral social media campaign targeting the company’s founder and CEO, Eugene Yu, led to personal threats to him and his family and damaged his company’s business.

In podcasts and interviews, Phillips described a dramatic night in early 2021 in a Dallas hotel, where a man he later identified as Mike Hasson revealed what True the Vote has said was hard evidence of Konnech’s alleged influence on the 2020 election.

The involvement of a third man was unknown until a Thursday hearing, when Konnech’s attorney’s pressed Phillips for additional information about what Phillips claimed was an hourslong Konnech research session in Dallas that night. On the stand, Phillips revealed that another “analyst” was present in the room when Hasson allegedly offered evidence he’d uncovered about Konnech, showing the company had stored American poll worker data on a server in China. Neither he nor Engelbrecht would release the third man’s name, saying he was in danger from “drug cartels.”

While True the Vote’s former attorney on the matter, Brock Akers, released Hasson’s name after U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt demanded he do so earlier in the month, True the Vote’s new legal team has chosen a different path. Akers has not appeared in court since providing Hasson’s name. Last week, Engelbrecht and Phillips were represented by Michael Wynne, a different Houston attorney, who told the court Akers was on vacation “on the Mediterranean” and would be withdrawing from the case. Wynne said Akers remained away, on a cruise, on Monday morning.

Phillips and Engelbrecht bring the number of people who have served time in jail related to the case to three. Yu was arrested in his home state of Michigan on Oct. 4 before facing charges in Los Angeles County, where he was briefly held on house arrest. He has now posted bond and returned to Michigan with an ankle monitor.

Yu is facing felony charges of grand theft by embezzlement and conspiracy to commit a crime. The Los Angeles district attorney’s office said Yu and Konnech violated the company’s contract with Los Angeles County by illegally giving contractors in China access to data that was supposed to be stored only in the United States. Yu has filed a motion to dismiss the charges, arguing that even if the charges are true, they aren’t criminal. Los Angeles prosecutors have acknowledged receiving an early tip from Phillips. (The Texas Tribune)

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“Trust, honesty, and respect will always be our highest values, regarding both our work and our lives,” Engelbrecht said in a statement. “As a result, we will be held in jail until we agree to give up the name of a person we believe was not covered under the terms of the judge’s [temporary restraining order]. We ask that you keep us in your prayers. Thank you to those who continue supporting and believing in us and our mission to make elections safe for all parties and for all people.”

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