The CEO of an election worker management company was recently arrested due, in part, to the investigative efforts of an Alabama man.
Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón confirmed Konnech Corporation CEO Eugene Yu was taken into custody in Michigan earlier this week. Yu is charged with suspicion of theft of personal identifying information.
Konnech distributes and sells its proprietary PollChief software, an election worker management system. It has the personal information of poll workers, and investigators found that information was stored on servers in the People's Republic of China, which is a breach of contract and also illegal.
"Under its $2.9 million, five-year contract with the county, Konnech was supposed to securely maintain the data and [ensure] that only United States citizens and permanent residents have access to it," the LA district attorney's office said in a statement.
The arrest came after some news reports, including a New York Times report, criticized True the Vote, a vote-monitoring organization based in Houston, Texas, for claiming Konnech had ties to China. True the Vote was also already facing a defamation lawsuit concerning its findings and what information it released in connection to the China ties.
Gregg Phillips, who has helped True the Vote investigate election fraud cases nationwide, is an Alabama native. He is unable to comment because of the pending lawsuit, but True the Vote did release a statement after the arrest of Yu.
"True the Vote is honored to have played a small role in what must have been a wide-ranging and complex investigation," the statement read in part. "The organization is profoundly grateful to the Los Angeles District Attorney's office for their thorough work and rapid action in this matter."
The statement went on to say the lawsuit was Konnech's attempt to silence the organization after True the Vote found out about the data being stored in China.
True the Vote founder Catherine Engelbrecht has been highly criticized by those who doubt the information her organization has uncovered. However, Engelbrecht continues the work and says she believes this shouldn't be a political issue.
"Election integrity should not be a partisan issue, nor should media try to suppress all conversation about it in a way that benefits one party," said Engelbrecht. "We will continue to report evidence of threats to our election process and work with law enforcement to ensure our elections are a secure space for all American voters."
In the lawsuit, Konnech accused Engelbrecht and Phillips of wrongdoing, saying they "intentionally, repeatedly, and relentlessly attacked Konnech and its founder Eugene Yu with Defendants' unique brand of racism and xenophobia by their completely baseless claims that Konnech, its founder, and employees are 'Chinese operatives,' who are spearheading a Red Chinese communist op run against the United States."
Konnech claimed in the lawsuit that it is a U.S. company founded and operated by a U.S. citizen with no affiliation to the Chinese Communist Party.
"All of Konnech's U.S. customer data is secured and stored exclusively on protected computers in the United States," the lawsuit stated.
In the federal lawsuit, Engelbrecht and Phillips were called the "Bonnie and Clyde" of election fraud; the suit stated that they were just conspiracy theorists, pointing to the 2000 Mules documentary, in which they were both featured, as a failure. The lawsuit even detailed a highly secured meeting this summer in Arizona that Engelbrecht and Phillips called "The Pit." Attorneys for Yu said The Pit was where the pair publicly launched "their attack against Konnech by spreading baseless lies."
The Los Angeles DA's office said the information stored in China does not appear to have altered an election.
"Data breaches are an ongoing threat to our digital way of life," Gascón said. "When we entrust a company to hold our confidential data, they must be willing and able to protect our personal identifying information from theft. Otherwise, we are all victims."
The Meridian Township Police Department, the East Lansing Police Department and Ingham County Sheriff's Office in Michigan assisted in the investigation.
Yu, 51, was granted a $1 million bond but has been ordered to wear a GPS tether, surrender his passport, and report to California authorities on Oct. 14 to answer the charge.
Konnech also has contracts with Allen County, Indiana, DeKalb County in Georgia, St. Louis County, and California's Alameda County and San Francisco County. Konnech's website said the company has 32 clients in North America.
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