Social Media Claims Misrepresent Election Software CEO’s Arrest

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Quick Take

The CEO of a company that maintained poll worker data for Los Angeles County has been arrested as “part of an investigation into the possible theft of personal identifying information” of those poll workers, according to Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón. Conspiracy theorists and election deniers have claimed that the arrest is evidence of election fraud, even though Gascón has said that the “alleged conduct had no impact on the tabulation of votes and did not alter election results.”


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Social media platforms have flooded users’ feeds with claims that undermine the integrity of U.S. elections since 2020.

Now, about a month before the midterm elections, conspiracy theorists and election-fraud peddlers are pushing claims that the arrest of an election software company CEO is proof that their many debunked claims were true.

A worker carries ballots at a Los Angeles County Registrar processing center on Nov. 5, 2020. Photo by Keith Birmingham via Getty Images.

Conservative commentator Charlie Kirk, for example, claimed that the arrest was proof of “another election integrity ‘conspiracy theory’ confirmed.” His video making that claim has been viewed more than 23,000 times on Facebook.

And Peggy Hubbard, who lost her bid in June for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Illinois, posted a screenshot on Facebook about the arrest from conservative activist Jack Posobiec’s Twitter account and added this message: “Tell me again, that there isn’t any tampering in our elections. I’ll wait…” Hubbard has 349,000 followers on Facebook.

But the arrest of Eugene Yu, CEO of the Michigan-based company Konnech, doesn’t prove anything about election fraud.

He’s charged with “embezzlement of public funds” from Los Angeles County, where his company had a contract to provide software for managing poll workers. The prosecutor bringing the case — Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón — also clearly said in a press release that the charges don’t involve election tampering.

We’ll lay out the facts as we know them at this point:

Eugene Yu, 64, incorporated a company called LJ Connection in Michigan in 2001. The following year, after adopting a new image for the company, he incorporated Konnech.

According to the company’s website, Konnech provides software and support for election logistics for 32 clients in North America.

In October 2019, it entered into a one-year contract with Los Angeles County for use of its PollChief software, which manages information about poll workers and staffing needs at polling locations.

A year later, just before the presidential election, Los Angeles County extended that contract for another five years.

Now, two years after the election, that company and its work in Los Angeles are under scrutiny.

A conservative organization called True the Vote — which is best known for its contribution to the widely discredited election conspiracy theory video called “2,000 Mules” — held a conference in August during which organizers disparaged the integrity of U.S. elections and made sales pitches for various products and services that they claimed could fix the dubious problems they had identified.

A major claim that came out of the conference was that Konnech maintained servers in China that could be accessed by the Chinese government.

Gregg Phillips — who works with True the Vote director Catherine Engelbrecht — claimed in a video later that month that he had accessed those servers with his “guys” at a hotel room in Dallas in a “James Bond kind of thing” in January 2021.

“We took it directly,” he said, claiming that he’d seen “the database” containing poll worker information and that the company also did “fast count ballot counting… in China.”

Konnech has denied the claim that it has servers in China, and it filed a defamation suit in September against True the Vote.

Then, on Oct. 4, Yu was arrested, and Gascón issued a press release that said the arrest was “part of an investigation into the possible theft of personal identifying information” for Los Angeles poll workers.

The release also noted that the county’s contract with Konnech specified that only U.S. citizens and permanent residents would have access to its data and said that investigators “found that in contradiction to the contract, information was stored on servers in the People’s Republic of China.”

The same day, True the Vote issued a press release that began: “True the Vote is honored to have played a small role in what must have been a wide ranging and complex investigation. The organization is profoundly grateful to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office for their thorough work and rapid action in this matter.”

We asked Gascón’s office if it had worked with True the Vote and got this response: “Our Public Integrity Division (PID) routinely accepts complaints from the public. Often times, these complaints are made by political opponents of the accused. With that in mind, if a crime is alleged we have a responsibility to conduct an independent investigation. Greg Phillips’ report to PID was the first step in a thorough independent and still ongoing investigation which ultimately led to the arrest and charging of Mr. Yu. We initially indicated that Mr. Phillips played no role in the investigation. While we performed an independent investigation apart from Greg Philips, his report to us did in fact result in us initiating our investigation.”

The office also said that it doesn’t plan to make any further arrests.

According to the criminal complaint, which was filed Oct. 13, prosecutors allege that Konnech had used third-party contractors based in China to help with “creating and fixing” the company’s internal software and that those contractors had access to personal information about Los Angeles poll workers. Prosecutors argue that this contradicts Konnech’s contract with the county, which specified that only U.S. citizens and permanent residents would have access to the county’s poll worker data.

They charged him with embezzling public funds in the amount of the five-year contract, which was $2.65 million.

“This investigation is concerned solely with the personal identifying information of election workers,” the release from Gascón said. “In this case, the alleged conduct had no impact on the tabulation of votes and did not alter election results.”

So, anyone suggesting that Yu’s arrest proves that the outcome of the 2020 election was fraudulent is wrong. What he is actually charged with has nothing to do with ballot tampering.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here. Facebook has no control over our editorial content.

Sources

FactCheck.org. “Viral Voting Misinformation.” Updated 21 Dec 2020.

Board of Supervisors, Los Angeles County. REQUEST APPROVAL OF SOLE SOURCE CONTRACT #20-003 WITH KONNECH, INC. FOR POLLCHIEF. 13 Oct 2020.

The People of the State of California v. Eugene Yu. No. BA509784. Complaint. Superior Court of the State of California For the County of Los Angeles. 13 Oct 2022.

Farley, Robert. “Evidence Gaps in ‘2000 Mules.’” FactCheck.org. Updated 13 Jun 2022.

Right Side Broadcasting Network. “REPLAY: from ‘The Pit’ , A Vital Strategy Session presented by True The Vote 8/13/22.” Rumble. 8 Aug 2022.

Elijah Streams. “(RUMBLE ONLY) Prophets and Patriots – Episode 20 with Gregg Phillips and Steve Shultz.” Rumble. 23 Aug 2022.

Konnech v. True the Vote. No. 4:22-cv-03096. U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. Complaint. 12 Sep 2022.

State of Michigan v. Yu. No. 2022-2201561-EX. Michigan 55th District Court. 4 Oct 2022.

Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. Press release. “October 4, 2022: Head of Election Worker Management Company Arrested in Connection with Theft of Personal Data.” 4 Oct 2022.

True the Vote. Press release. “True the Vote Issues Statement Regarding the Arrest of Konnech CEO Eugene Yu.” 4 Oct 2022.

Konnech v. True the Vote. No. 4:22-cv-03096. U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas. Defendants’ motion to hold matter in abeyance. 12 Oct 2022.

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