Become an 1819 Member
Arizona lawmakers heard from True the Vote last week, amid a lengthy and detailed investigation into possible fraud in the 2020 election.
Catherine Engelbrecht, founder of True the Vote, and her associate Gregg Phillips presented their findings to eight Republican lawmakers in a live-streamed meeting at the Arizona state Capitol.
The group used GPS data to identify cell phones they say were repeatedly in close proximity to ballot drop boxes and also made repeated visits to nonprofit organizations that True the Vote claims could be involved in illegal ballot collection activities. True the Vote claims those cell phones must have been carried by people who were illegally collecting ballots and turning them in.
During the presentation, Phillips, who is from Alabama, referred to a 1994 case in Alabama.
“A guy that was running for Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, he happened to be my political mentor and one of my best friend’s dad,” said Phillips. “And we had deeply embroiled in this; every single piece of this case that ultimately came down from the United States Supreme Court is relevant to everything that y’all will consider and everything that you think about or maybe could consider thinking about as you debate and deliberate over these next coming set of bills.”
Phillips said in 1994, Judge Perry Hooper, Sr. won the election on election night. He was the first Republican to ever be voted to that position. However, the next morning, the tide had changed and the win was stripped from him after over 15,000 absentee ballots showed up, mostly from the Selma area, and were counted.
“It was no surprise. I worked in Alabama since I was a kid and you know, 15,000 votes showing up in Selma, Alabama was not a super big surprise to anyone,” said Phillips. “But it was to Judge Hooper.”
The case ultimately went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled Hooper did, in fact, win the election.
In a conversation with 1819 News, Phillips said he served as an advisor to help guide the investigation. After years of working elections, Phillips said helping in any way he could was a way of giving back to his longtime mentor.
“He was not just a reference for me in my early career, but arguably one of the most important people in my career,” Phillips said.
Phillips said another case out of Alabama led to his interest in elections: the Bullock County case involved 147% of the voting-age population being registered to vote and actively voting.
"There were just a lot of people and things around that sort of drew me into it," said Phillips. "From there, I've done 32 races in 22 countries. I've done countless races around the country."
Phillips owns an election intelligence company and a healthcare technology company. He does contract work with True the Vote.
During the presentation to Arizona lawmakers, Phillips outlined the largest concerns about the ballots in the Alabama case. He said there were no dates or signatures on many of the ballots, which was the law at the time of the election.
“Nine months later, the Supreme Court ruled in his favor, on two key points,” Phillips continued. “The first one was, there is no such thing as substantial compliance. It’s a flawed doctrine that is made up by people that don’t want to follow the rules. And the Supreme Court also said, and this is, I think, something for y’all to consider as you’re moving forward, is the Supreme Court said that whatever the law is on the date of the election, whatever the law is, that’s what prevails.”
Hooper’s son, Perry O. Hooper Jr., said he remembers the anguish the botched election brought upon his family.
“I’ve been through it by people that steal votes,” said Hooper. “It hurts. It hurts your heart and you want to fight for what’s right.”
As for the Arizona case, Phillips urged Arizona lawmakers to look closely at current laws to ensure they are sufficient. He also said to heavily consider any new laws very carefully.
Phillips said he turned over data to Attorney General Mark Brnovich's office a year ago, but the AG's office told him it never received it.
The cell phone 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.
The film focuses in part on southwestern Arizona's Yuma County, where the Arizona attorney general's office indicted two people for illegally collecting ballots in the 2020 primary election. Guillermina Fuentes and a second woman were indicted in December 2020 on one count of ballot abuse, commonly known as “ballot harvesting” and made illegal under a 2016 state law. Her co-defendant awaits sentencing after pleading guilty to a reduced charge several months ago.
Fuentes, 66 and a Democrat, is a former mayor of the border city of San Luis and currently serves as an elected board member of the Gadsden Elementary School District in San Luis. She's accused of collecting ballots in the border city in violation of the law that only allows a caregiver or family member to return someone else's early ballot, and in some cases fill them out. Her attorney has not responded to repeated inquiries seeking comment, but Fuentes pleaded guilty Thursday in an agreement that will likely allow her to avoid a lengthy prison sentence.
The film has been widely criticized and naysayers have attempted to cast doubt on the facts of the film.
Phillips said news stories pointing out the lack of proof of their findings so far were written by “journalistic terrorists.” But he declined to outline the methods, calling them “proprietary." Phillips told 1819 News that after watching surveillance footage, he believes drop boxes in elections should be very concerning.
“We’ve arguably seen more video or have more video than anybody else on the planet,” said Phillips. “In spite of anything that you might read that it’s not true, that our ability to track, they keep focusing on GIS and cell phone triangulation, those are all the wrong questions and all the wrong technology. We don’t do that and it has nothing to do with what we do.”
The True the Vote representatives told lawmakers that they have no video from Yuma County and only have obstructed surveillance footage from one drop box in Maricopa County.
Republican state Sen. Kelly Townsend warned that there will be people monitoring drop boxes, following people to their car and writing down license plate numbers.
“I have been so pleased to hear about all you vigilantes out here who want to camp out at these drop boxes. Do it," said Townsend.
GOP lawmakers have now asked a judge to invalidate Arizona’s mail-in voting process for the 2022 general election in November. Mohave County Superior Court Judge Lee Jantzen said he hopes to issue a ruling by noon on Monday.
After 18 months of work on the Arizona case, Phillips said "It's amazing. We've long said that once this ecosystem of corruption and crime has been exposed in San Luis, Arizona, mirrors of this organization, broadly, are everywhere in the United States. Now we have ties to over 60 organizations that look very much like that Yuma County, sort of crime syndicate. Now that we are getting this wrapped up and we know where the others are, now all we've got to do is start picking them out, find law enforcement that's interested in it and start knocking those people. The most gratifying thing by far though is that people are finally being vindicated."
Phillips said the next step is to make all of the video and data available to the public.
To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t miss out! Subscribe to our newsletter and get our top stories every weekday morning.