The founders of the election integrity group True the Vote were jailed on Oct. 31 by a federal judge 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 share information, including all people who have had or still have possession of any information from Konnech computers.
Konnech is an election management software firm whose CEO was arrested 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 that the election integrity group 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 (TRO), 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 investigators found that 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 the 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 wouldn’t 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 person’s identity to the FBI and that they shouldn’t 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 Oct. 31.
Phillips also said that Hasson and FBI agents were the only people who had access to the information.
The defendants will be detained “until they fully comply” with Hoyt’s order to disclose information, according to a summary of the hearing.