Monday, The New York Times ran an article defending a Michigan election software company against claims that it had ties to the Chinese Communist Party.
Tuesday, the CEO of that company was arrested “as part of an investigation into the possible theft of personal identifying information” of Los Angeles County poll workers.
Investigators from the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office Bureau of Investigation took Konnech Corp. CEO Eugene Yu into custody with assistance from the Meridian Township Police Department in Michigan.
Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón — who has been under fire for what conservatives have labeled his soft-on-crime approach to prosecutions — was quick to point out that the arrest and investigation were not related to election tampering.
“In this case, the alleged conduct had no impact on the tabulation of votes and did not alter election results,” Gascón said in a news release, the full text of which is available below. “But security in all aspects of any election is essential so that we all have full faith in the integrity of the election process.”
As recently as two days ago, The Times had referred to accusations against the company as a “conspiracy theory” promulgated by “a group of election deniers.”
Investigators said Konnech had held data in China, in violation of its contract with the county. Konnech said it used to do some testing through a subsidiary in China, but used “dummy” test data.
That subsidiary shut down last year, The Times said in its report on Yu’s arrest, published the following day.
“Konnech had been the focus of conservative election deniers True the Vote, because of its alleged connection with China,” United Press International reported.
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In fact, last month Konnech sued True the Vote, the organization’s founder Catherine Engelbrecht and Gregg Phillips, whom the outlet labeled an “election denier.”
“The company has charged in its lawsuit that True the Vote has engaged in defamation, theft and a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act for illegally accessing one of its computers without authorization,” according to the report.
“The organization is profoundly grateful to the Los Angeles district attorney’s office for their thorough work and rapid action in this matter,” True the Vote said in a statement to The Times.
The District Attorney’s Office did not allege any connections between Konnech and the CCP, nor were any allegations made of any activity that would effect the outcome of any elections in the U.S.
No voter fraud claims were mentioned in the news release.
The entire news release from the Media Relations Division of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office appears below:
Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced today that an executive with a Michigan-based company responsible for the software used in managing Los Angeles County election poll workers has been arrested as part of an investigation into the possible theft of personal identifying information of those workers.
“I want to thank my prosecutors and investigators for their commitment to eliminating cyber intrusions against government entities and local businesses,” District Attorney Gascón said.
“Data breaches are an ongoing threat to our digital way of life. When we entrust a company to hold our confidential data, they must be willing and able to protect our personal identifying information from theft. Otherwise, we are all victims.
This investigation is concerned solely with the personal identifying information of election workers. In this case, the alleged conduct had no impact on the tabulation of votes and did not alter election results. But security in all aspects of any election is essential so that we all have full faith in the integrity of the election process.”
Earlier today, Konnech Corporation Chief Executive Officer Eugene Yu was taken into custody on suspicion of theft of personal identifying information by investigators from the District Attorney’s Office Bureau of Investigation with assistance from the Meridian Township Police Department in Michigan. In addition, hard drives and other digital evidence were seized by LADA investigators.
The District Attorney’s Office is seeking Yu’s extradition to Los Angeles.
Konnech distributes and sells its proprietary PollChief software, which is an election worker management system that was utilized by the county in the last California election. The software assists with poll worker assignments, communications and payroll. PollChief requires that workers submit personal identifying information, which is retained by the Konnech.
Under its $2.9 million, five-year contract with the county, Konnech was supposed to securely maintain the data and that only United States citizens and permanent residents have access to it.
District Attorney investigators found that in contradiction to the contract, information was stored on servers in the People’s Republic of China.
The East Lansing Police Department and Ingham County Sheriff’s Office in Michigan also assisted in the investigation.