True Vote leaders sent to prison after the contempt decision by the federal judge
The order marked the latest breakthrough in a defamation case brought last month by Konnech, an election software company that True the Vote said allowed the Chinese government to gain access to a server in China that contained the personal information of nearly 2 million American election workers. Konnech vigorously contested the claim.
The judge overseeing the case, US District Judge Kenneth Hoyt, had ordered Engelbrecht and Phillips to reveal the name of a person who allegedly helped True the Vote access Konnech’s computer systems.
When they refused to meet the 9 o’clock court deadline, the judge found them in contempt. The couple claimed, without evidence, that the person who helped them was a confidential FBI informant.
In a statement, Engelbrecht said that “we will be held in prison until we agree to give up the name of a person who we believe was not covered by the terms of the judge’s order.”
Michael J. Wynne, a lawyer for Engelbrecht and Phillips, said “we are looking at alternative remedies” and declined further comment. Katie Breen, a spokeswoman for True the Vote, released a statement saying the organization is demanding the “immediate release” of its leaders and that its lawyers are appealing the decision.
Dean Pamphilis, an attorney for Konnech said, “Judge Hoyt’s order holding Ms. Engelbrecht and Mr. Phillips in contempt speaks for itself.”
Konnech’s chief executive, Eugene Yu, was arrested in early October on charges that appeared to mirror some of True the Vote’s claims. The Los Angeles district attorney’s office later dropped its charges, saying Konnech had exposed the personal information of “tens of thousands of County workers to possible compromise.”
Yu’s lawyer has asked that the charges be dismissed, arguing they are without merit.
Phillips and Engelbrecht are prominent and longtime members of the electoral denier movement.
A few days after the 2016 presidential election, Phillips claimed without evidence that he had “verified” that more than 3 million votes had been cast by non-citizens – just enough to wipe out Hillary Clinton’s margin in the popular vote count. Donald Trump, then president-elect, eagerly repeated the claim.
Phillips later announced that a fundraising effort was underway to verify his claim. But in a video from 2017 posted on YouTube, said that not enough donations were received to complete the work.
True the Vote later received millions in donations to investigate the 2020 election. One donor, Fred Eschelman, gave the group $2.5 million but then sued to get their money back, saying True the Vote directed much of their money to people or businesses connected to Engelbrecht. A lawyer for the organization denied Eschelman’s claim.
Engelbrecht and Phillips most recently were executive producers of “2,000 Mules,” a widely discredited film that purports to show countless people illegally voting by mail based on surveillance video and geotracking data. Although spokesperson for the film he said made millions of dollars in revenue, no fraud was ever found.
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