By Zachary Stieber
The founders of the election integrity group True the Vote were jailed on Oct. 31 for contempt of court.
U.S. Marshals detained Catherine Engelbrecht and Gregg Phillips after a hearing in federal court in Dallas, according to a court docket entry.
Court filings show U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt, the Reagan appointee overseeing a lawsuit against True the Vote, Engelbrecht, and Phillips, ordered the defendants jailed after they refused to deliver information including all people who have had or still have possession of any information from Konnech computers.
Konnech is an election software firm whose CEO was arrested earlier in October for allegedly stealing poll worker data and hosting it on servers in China.
Konnech sued True the Vote prior to the arrest, alleging True the Vote and its founders gained unauthorized access to its computers and gained information from them.
In the lawsuit and a motion for a temporary restraining order, Konnech said that the defendants made “completely baseless claims” that Konnech’s CEO and employees were Chinese operatives and that the FBI was investigating Konnech.
“The truth is that Konnech is a U.S. company founded and operated by a U.S. citizen who has no affiliation with the Chinese Communist Party whatsoever,” Konnech said, adding that all of its U.S. customer data “is secured and stored exclusively on protected computers located within the United States.”
That was part of the $2.9 million contract Konnech reached with Los Angeles County, but Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascón, a Democrat who charged Konnech CEO Eugene Yu, said that investigators found information “was stored on servers in the People’s Republic of China.”
True the Vote said Konnech’s claims that they hacked into Konnech servers were false and that they accessed a server in China using a “pre-loaded password that did not even require typing in a password to enter the server.”
Hoyt in September ordered defendants to stop accessing the computers and to return all property and data obtained from the computers. He also ordered them to identify each person and group involved in accessing the computers and to disclose to Konnech how the computers were accessed.
Defendants told the court in a sealed letter that they would not identify the source of the data, “arguing that to do so would hinder an FBI investigation concerning the matter, or jeopardizing ‘national security,’” Hoyt said in a recent order.
Defendants said they turned over the identity to the FBI and that they should not have to make that name available to Konnech. Text messages submitted to the court were sent between Engelbrecht and FBI agents, according to an affidavit from the former.
Phillips said in an affidavit that defendants would “comply fully” with Hoyt’s order and that the name of the person who accessed information from a computer was revealed in court during a recent hearing. According to Votebeat, that person is Mike Hasson. A summons was issued to Hasson on Monday.
Phillips also said that Hasson and FBI agents were the only people who had access to the information.
Hoyt set a hearing for defendants to show why they should not be held in contempt and found them in contempt on Monday.
The defendants will be detained “for one-day and further until they fully comply” with Hoyt’s order to disclose information, according to a summary of the hearing.
“True the Vote calls for the immediate release of founder Catherine Engelbrecht and contractor Gregg Phillips, who were jailed for contempt today for refusing to deliver to Konnech the name of the third party who was present at a presentation of evidence of Konnech’s wrongdoing,” True the Vote said in a statement to The Epoch Times. “This evidence was provided to the LA District Attorney’s office in their investigation of Konnech, which resulted in the arrest of CEO Eugene Yu. True the Vote attorneys are expediting an appeal seeking to have Engelbrecht and Phillips released.”
“Trust, honesty, and respect will always be our highest values, regarding both our work and our lives,” Engelbrecht added. “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 TRO. “