NPR takes a deep dive.
Konnech, a small Michigan company that makes election logistics software, says a “smear campaign” whipped up by the controversial group True the Vote has led to death threats and forced the company’s CEO to leave home in fear for his and his family’s lives. The company believes a driving force behind the threats is xenophobia; Konnech’s CEO immigrated to the U.S. from China in the 1980s and became an American citizen in 1997.
In the past, the executive of a relatively unknown company might have chosen to ignore such claims to try to deprive them of attention.
But in the wake of the conspiracy-fueled Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol, and in the era of QAnon and Pizzagate — bizarre and baseless theories that have contributed to very real violence — that strategy may no longer be tenable. The experience of the election technology company Dominion Voting Systems, which became the target of widespread conspiracy theories about the 2020 election, also underscored how wild claims could significantly damage a company’s business.
Just a few weeks after accusations against the company first surfaced, Konnech turned to the federal courts and filed a lawsuit. Konnech was “not going to take any chances and felt very strongly that it needed to act and act quickly,” said Jon Goldberg, a company spokesperson.
Konnech, which makes scheduling software for poll workers, joined a growing number of election officials and companies that have used defamation law to try to fight back against election-related conspiracies.
At an event in August dubbed “The Pit,” Engelbrecht and Phillips unveiled what they called the “Tiger Project,” which focused on Konnech. In interviews with far-right podcasters, Phillips has spun a cloak-and-dagger story that he compared to a James Bond movie, in which he helped uncover a supposed Chinese plot to infiltrate American elections.
In Phillips’ telling, he first heard about the company from “my guys” — unnamed “colleagues and friends” who invited him to their room in the Hilton Anatole hotel in Dallas one late night in January 2021.
“I get there and they’re putting towels, rolled up towels, under the doors and you know, and all my guys are armed,” Phillips said on the podcast “1819 News.”
Phillips said his colleagues showed him personal information for 1.8 million American poll workers, including “name, address, date of birth, Social Security number, banking information,” which supposedly was held on a server in China.
Konnech maintains that this claim is entirely false, and that all of its data on American customers is stored solely in the U.S.
After seeing this presentation, Phillips claims that he and Engelbrecht brought Konnech’s data to the FBI, which he claims then worked with them for more than a year on a supposed “counterintelligence” operation looking into Konnech. At one point, Phillips said he had a “secret squirrels” meeting with the FBI in Milwaukee to share information. Eventually, however, the FBI “completely betrayed us,” Phillips said, and told True the Vote that they were themselves under scrutiny from law enforcement.
True the Vote has not publicly provided evidence to support the claim of a “counterintelligence” operation along those lines, nor has NPR found any corroboration. The FBI did not respond to a request for comment.
See here for the background and be sure to read the rest. I love the idea that these clowns thought they were reporting a crime to the FBI when in fact they were telling on themselves. I just hope it leads to the conclusion that we all want to see.