Shortly after a federal judge ordered the arrest of the founders of a Texas group that was spreading baseless election conspiracy theories, U.S. Marshals escorted the duo out of a Houston courtroom and into a detention cell.
Catherine Engelbrecht and Gregg Phillips are the founders of True the Vote and executive producers of a film promoted by Donald Trump and other prominent Republicans to advance a fraudulent narrative that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him .
On October 31, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt ordered them detained for “a day and more until they fully comply” with a court order requiring them to reveal the name of someone from interest in a defamation and hacking case against them. They claimed, without evidence, that the person was a confidential FBI informant.
Monday’s arrest marks the latest twist in a bizarre and sprawling case in the aftermath of the 2020 election, with supporters of baseless voter fraud allegations accused of defaming an election tech firm, which also does the under investigation for alleged security vulnerabilities exposed by True the Vote.
Judge Hoyt is overseeing a defamation case against True the Vote by election software company Konnech Inc, which accused the group of promoting baseless allegations against the company and its founder Eugene Yu.
True the Vote accused the Michigan-based company of holding information on nearly 2 million voters in the United States and that Mr. Yu, a longtime US resident, is a Chinese agent. Both the company and Mr. Yu denied the allegations.
The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, meanwhile, charged Mr. Yu with two crimes that appeared to mirror some of the allegations raised by True the Vote. The bureau, however, later downgraded charges against the company, which would have exposed county workers to “possible compromise,” according to the district attorney.
Mr. Yu requested that the charges be dismissed.
A Konnech spokesperson said in a statement earlier this month that any data from Los Angeles County election officials “that Konnech may have had was provided to it by LA County and therefore would not have could have been “stolen” as suggested.
Ms. Engelbrecht and Mr. Phillips, meanwhile, are prominent among voter fraud conspiracy theorists with a long track record of claims that election results were manipulated. Mr Phillips claimed without evidence just days after the 2016 presidential election that he had ‘verified’ that more than 3 million votes had been cast by non-citizens.
The pair were also central to right-wing filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza’s largely debunked film 2,000 slippers, who claimed to have evidence of illegal mail-in and absentee ballots. They both appeared as executive producers, alongside Mr. D’Souza, in the film’s credits.
True the Vote solicited donations through the group’s Truth Social account after the duo’s arrest.
“And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:32,” according to the post. “To join us in the cause, please donate here.”