Election conspiracy theorists jailed in Texas lawsuit

Oct 31, 2022, 3:43 PM | Updated: 5:13 pm

HOUSTON (AP) — The leaders of a Texas-based group that promotes election conspiracy theories were jailed Monday for not complying with a court order to provide information in a defamation lawsuit over some of their claims.

Catherine Engelbrecht and Gregg Phillips, who run True the Vote, were ordered detained 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’s 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 organization are being sued by Michigan-based election software provider Konnech Inc. over True the Vote’s claims of a Chinese-related conspiracy involving U.S. poll workers’ information.

Alfredo Perez, a spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service in Houston, said Monday that Engelbrecht and Phillips were in the law enforcement agency’s custody.

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

Konnech provides election software used to recruit and train poll workers. It has accused Engelbrecht, Phillips and their group of falsely claiming that Konnech stored the personal information of U.S. election workers in an unsecured server in China.

The lawsuit also alleges True the Vote’s leaders illegally downloaded from Konnech’s server the personal data of 1.8 million U.S. poll workers.

Konnech says all of its U.S. customer data is secured and stored on “protected computers within 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 anyone who helped access it.

In 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 that the group does not believe the person was covered by Hoyt’s disclosure order.

Konnech’s lawsuit accuses Engelbrecht and Phillips of “racism and xenophobia” by making “baseless claims” that “the Chinese Communist Party is somehow controlling U.S. elections through Konnech because its founder and some of its employees are of Chinese descent.”

Konnech’s CEO and founder, Eugene Yu, 65, is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in China, according to his attorneys. He has lived with his family in Michigan for more than 20 years.

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

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

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

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

True the Vote’s claims of election fraud have been widely discredited.

Cellphone data analysis done by True the Vote was used by conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza in his film “2000 Mules” to try to show that Democratic operatives were paid to illegally collect and drop off ballots in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

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


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


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

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Beijing, Shenzhen scrap COVID-19 tests for public transport

BEIJING (AP) — Local Chinese authorities on Saturday announced a further easing of COVID-19 curbs, with major cities such as Shenzhen and Beijing no longer requiring negative tests to take public transport. The slight relaxation of COVID-19 testing requirements comes even as daily virus infections reach near-record highs, and follows weekend protests across the country […]
2 hours ago
A police officer tries to keep the roadway clear as people come to view the Mauna Loa volcano as it...
Associated Press

Molten lava on Hawaii’s Big Island could block main highway

HILO, Hawaii (AP) — Many people on the Big Island of Hawaii are bracing for major upheaval if lava from Mauna Loa volcano slides across a key highway and blocks the quickest route connecting two sides of the island. The molten rock could make the road impassable and force drivers to find alternate coastal routes […]
2 hours ago
Associated Press

Washington condemns shooting at Pakistan embassy in Kabul

ISLAMABAD (AP) — The United States has condemned Friday’s attack on the Pakistani embassy in Afghanistan’s capital in which a senior Pakistani diplomat escaped unhurt but one of his Pakistani guards was wounded. The attack comes amid rising tensions between the South Asian neighbors over Islamabad’s claims that anti-Pakistan government forces are organizing terrorist attacks […]
2 hours ago
FILE - Residents queue at a bank branch in Kherson, southern Ukraine, Nov. 21, 2022. Even as Ukrain...
Associated Press

EXPLAINER: Can Ukraine pay for war without wrecking economy?

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Even as Ukraine celebrates recent battlefield victories, its government faces a looming challenge on the financial front: how to pay the enormous cost of the war effort without triggering out-of-control price spikes for ordinary people or piling up debt that could hamper postwar reconstruction. The struggle is finding loans or donations […]
2 hours ago
Members of the Korean Confederation of Trade Unions shout slogans during a rally against the govern...
Associated Press

Thousands protest in South Korea in support of truckers

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Thousands of demonstrators representing organized labor marched in South Korea’s capital on Saturday denouncing government attempts to force thousands of striking truckers back to work after they walked out in a dispute over the price of freight. There were no immediate reports of injuries or major clashes from the protests […]
2 hours ago
FILE - A protester holding flowers is confronted by a policeman during a protest on a street in Sha...
Associated Press

At Shanghai vigil, bold shout for change preceded crackdown

SHANGHAI (AP) — The mourners in Shanghai lit candles and placed flowers. Someone scrawled “Urumqi, 11.24, Rest in Peace” in red on cardboard — referring to the deadly apartment fire in China’s western city of Urumqi that sparked anger over perceptions the country’s strict COVID-19 measures played a role in the disaster. What started as […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.
Election conspiracy theorists jailed in Texas lawsuit