Report: Cyber Experts Find Chinese Infiltration of US Election Software, But Things Take Sick Turn After Call from Washington FBI Office
On Monday, The New York Times published a condescending story about “a group of election deniers” who had gathered “at an invitation-only conference in August at a secret location southeast of Phoenix” and “unspooled a new conspiracy theory about the 2020 presidential outcome.”
The story involved Konnech Corp., a small election software company based in Michigan, which the group claimed “had secret ties to the Chinese Communist Party and had given the Chinese government backdoor access to personal data about two million poll workers,” the Times reported.
The very next day, the company’s CEO, Eugene Yu, 51, was arrested on suspicion of stealing identifying information on hundreds of Los Angeles County poll workers and storing the data on servers located in China, a violation of Konnech’s contract with Los Angeles County.
The Times reported the story of Yu’s arrest without mention of the hit piece published the day before by the very same writer, Stuart A. Thompson.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said in a news release Tuesday that Yu had been taken into custody by investigators from its Bureau of Investigation with assistance from police in Meridian Township, Michigan.
The group whom the Times’ writer referred to as “election deniers” is led by Catherine Engelbrecht and Gregg Phillips. They are the founder and a board member, respectively, of True the Vote, an election integrity group based in Houston.
You might recognize their names from Dinesh D’Souza’s documentary “2000 Mules,” which makes the case that coordinated voter fraud changed the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.
At any rate, a September article published by Substack’s Kanekoa News provides some disturbing background information about the events that led to Yu’s arrest. The title of the piece is “FBI Conceals Chinese Infiltration of U.S. Election Software.”
The report cited a live chat on TruetheVote.locals.com in which Engelbrecht and Phillips appeared together and shared some of their findings.
In January 2021, Phillips said, he was working with a cybersecurity analyst who noticed an “oddity in some of the URLs” used by one of Konnech’s software applications. Using software designed to help companies detect cyber breaches, he and the expert “began to look at where do these URLs resolve to,” he said.
“We found that most of them resolve to one I.P. address and that I.P. address — the URL resolved in China,” Phillips said.
With this software, he explained, “you can figure out what type of database they are using, their database port, and all the different services offered by ports in this particular application living in China. It turned out that not only did it live there, but they left the database open.”
They discovered the database “stored the personally identifying information of over a million Americans,” Phillips said.
Seeing this to be a “major national security risk,” he and Engelbrecht contacted the FBI, according to the report. Agents said Konnech was already “on their radar.” There were “lots of other problems” with the company.
The FBI told Phillips and Engelbrecht “a counter-intelligence op was opened up in January or February of 2021.”
“They engaged us in the operation, they were communicating with us on a regular basis. They were communicating with Catherine regarding communications with the target and this went on for approximately 15 months,” Phillips said. “These were legitimate people who believed that this software posed a national security risk to the United States of America and they were working with us closely to try to stop this from being in place during the midterms.”
But everything changed after Engelbrecht received a call in April 2022 from one of the agents, who told her the FBI’s “Washington D.C. headquarters” was now handling the investigation.
“There was no more goodwill, there was no more let’s work together, the script had been flipped, and now we were the target,” she said. “That was a very disturbing call.”
The agent told Engelbrecht that “two women” at headquarters believed she and Phillips were “in the wrong for doing this” and they were trying “to figure out how you guys broke the law to find all of this,” according to Kanekoa.
Now that sounds like the FBI we’ve come to know, doesn’t it?
Engelbrecht explained that the Department of Homeland Security is responsible for securing the U.S. election systems’ “critical infrastructure” and that the “president of this company sits on the board of another election company that is one of the founding members of DHS’s election security task force. So you want to talk about the fox in the hen house? It’s all right there.”
She continued, “The same individual who programmed this election mess, PollChief, was also the lead programmer for the Confucius Institute internal comms [communication] mechanism. Meaning how they exchange data between here and China; this same person built the entire app that runs all of these elections across the United States. This is a red Chinese communist op run against the United States by Chinese operatives, and it’s a disaster.”
Finally, Engelbrecht said she received a call from one of the agents they had worked with earlier who said, “[Y]ou may need to be ready to — his term was to use the nuclear option and go to the press.”
That was when they planned what the New York Times writer called their “invitation-only conference in August at a secret location southeast of Phoenix.”
They invited 200 “researchers, independent journalists, and big thinkers.”
“We asked the people in attendance for help, we didn’t know what the FBI’s plans were for us, we didn’t know if we didn’t speak this publicly if we would ever have the chance to, but we felt like our best chance was to share this with people we trusted who had the wherewithal to get the word out,” Engelbrecht said, according to Kanekoa.
Phillips said, “This is some of the best research I have ever seen. The quality of it, the depth of it, we were with a prosecutor the other day and we had an opportunity to share some of this information with them.”
He continued, “There’s likely going to be a grand jury convened here in the next week or so. It’s supported by not just the research that my team OPSEC did for Catherine and True the Vote, but by the research of one of the best research teams I’ve ever seen come together.”
At the end of their discussion, Englebrecht said the Yu/Konnech story was far from over and that it would get bigger. Kanekoa published its report on Sept. 8.
It looks like she was right.
The Times updated its article about the “group of election deniers” on Thursday.
“After this article was published, the chief executive of Konnech, Eugene Yu, was arrested in connection with an investigation into the possible theft of personal information about poll workers,” it said in an Editor’s Note. “In communications with The Times for this article, neither Mr. Yu nor a spokesman for Konnech said that the company was the subject of an investigation.
“They also asserted that all the company’s data was stored on servers in the United States; prosecutors in Los Angeles, who brought the charges against Mr. Yu, said that they had found some company data stored on servers in China.
“The Times is continuing to report on this story.”
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