True the Vote leaders sent to jail after contempt ruling by federal judge

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Leaders of True the Vote, an organization that has been spreading baseless claims that cast doubt on the outcome of the 2020 election, were arrested Monday morning after a federal judge in Texas found them in contempt of court.

Founder Kathryn Engelbrecht and former board member Gregg Phillips were escorted out of a Houston courthouse by federal marshals and taken into custody after the verdict.

The order was filed last month by Connatch, an election software company that said True the Vote gave the Chinese government access to a server in China that contained the personal data of nearly 2 million American voters. Konnech vehemently disputed this claim.

The judge overseeing the case, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt, ordered Engelbrecht and Phillips to release the name of the person who allegedly helped True the Vote hack into Konnech’s computer systems.

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The judge found them in contempt when they refused to meet the court’s 9 a.m. deadline. The couple claimed, without evidence, that the man who helped them was an undercover FBI informant.

Engelbrecht said in a statement that “we will remain in jail until we agree to release the name of the person we believe is not covered by the terms of the court order.”

Michael J. Wynn, a lawyer for Engelbrecht and Phillips, declined to comment further, saying “we are looking at other options.” True the Vote spokeswoman Kathy Breen said in a statement that the organization is calling for the “immediate release” of its leaders and that its attorneys will appeal the decision.

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“Judge Hoyt’s contempt order against Ms. Engelbrecht and Mr. Phillips speaks for itself,” said Dean Pamphilis, Konnech’s attorney.

Konnech’s executive director, Eugene Yu, was arrested in early October on charges that mirrored some of True the Vote’s claims. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office later dropped the allegations, saying Connatch exposed “tens of thousands of county employees’ personal information to potential compromise.”

Yu’s lawyer said the charges were baseless and asked that they be dismissed.

Phillips and Engelbrecht are prominent and long-standing members of the abolitionist movement.

Days after the 2016 presidential election, Phillips claimed, without any evidence, that he had “verified” that more than 3 million noncitizen votes had been cast—enough to wipe out Hillary Clinton’s margin in the popular vote. Then-President-elect Donald Trump vehemently echoed the claim.

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Phillips later announced that a fundraising effort was underway to verify his claim. But in a video posted on YouTube in 2017, he said that he did not receive enough funds to complete the work.

True The Vote later received millions in donations to investigate the 2020 election. One donor, Fred Eshelman, gave $2.5 million to the group, but later sued to get his money back, alleging that Voice of Truth funneled most of his money to people or businesses associated with Engelbrecht. A lawyer for the organization denied Eshelman’s claim.

Engelbrecht and Phillips recently executive produced “2,000 Mules,” a widely discredited film about countless people illegally voting by mail based on surveillance video and geotracking data. Although the film’s representatives said it made millions of dollars, no fraud was found.

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