The initial story claimed that a “conspiracy theory” about an elections software company having ties to Beijing was a pack of lies that left the owner, a Chinese immigrant, in tears. But the very next day, Konnech founder and CEO Eugene Yu, was arrested by L.A. County’s liberal district attorney for allegedly giving the Chinese government access to the personal data of nearly two million U.S. poll workers.
“I have never seen anything age this poorly, this quickly,” The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway quipped on Twitter.
Oct. 3: lengthy feature "debunking" a "conspiracy theory" about security of poll worker data.
Oct. 4: arrest on just that charge.
All from a newspaper that spent *years* pushing the absurd conspiracy theory that Trump stole the 2016 election by colluding with Russia.
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) October 5, 2022
Times reporter Stuart Thompson’s Monday story reported on the election integrity advocacy group True the Vote, which claimed in August to have hacked into Konnech’s database and learned that the company stored data on a server in China, which would be illegal.
“In the ensuing weeks, the conspiracy theory grew as it shot around the internet,” Thompson wrote. “To believers, the claims showed how China had gained near complete control of America’s elections.”
Yu told Thompson True the Vote’s claims were false and denied that his company had any ties to Beijing. Yu claimed to have received death threats and gone into hiding as a result of True the Vote’s allegations.
“I’ve cried,” Yu, who sued True the Vote over the allegations, told the Times. “Other than the birth of my daughter, I hadn’t cried since kindergarten.”
A day later, Thompson reported that Yu was arrested in Los Angeles “in connection with an investigation into the possible theft of personal information about poll workers.” Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón alleged that Konnech had indeed stored American poll workers’ data on servers in China.
Yu was arrested in Meridian Township, Michigan, by investigators from the LA District Attorney’s Office Bureau of Investigation with help from local police. Gascón said his office is seeking extradition. In addition to the arrest, hard drives and other digital evidence were seized by Gascón’s investigators.
“Data breaches are an ongoing threat to our digital way of life,” Gascón said in a statement. “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.”
Konnech, which sells its PollChief election-worker management system software to local jurisdictions, had a $2.9 million contract with LA County. The software manages poll worker assignments, communications and payroll and collects personal identifying information. Konnech was required to securely maintain the data and prevent access by anyone but U.S. citizens or permanent residents, but investigators alleged information was stored on servers in China.
True the Vote officials praised Gascón, a liberal prosecutor who has been harshly criticized by conservatives for his soft-on-crime policies, for “rapid action” in the case. The group blasted media outlets including The New York Times for “unblinkingly” accepting Konnech’s version of events.
“Election integrity should not be a partisan issue, nor should media try to suppress all conversation about it in a way that benefits one party,” said True the Vote Founder Catherine Engelbrecht. “We will continue to report evidence of threats to our election process and work with law enforcement to ensure our elections are a secure space for all American voters.”