In a live chat released on Monday, Catherine Engelbrecht and Gregg Phillips, appeared together on “truethevote.locals.com” to discuss their 15-month involvement with what was characterized to them as a “counter-intelligence operation” with the Federal Bureau of Investigation into American election company Konnech Inc.
Konnech, which is based out of East Lansing, Michigan, builds software to manage the poll workers, poll locations, campaigns, assets, and supplies necessary to run elections in the United States, Canada, and Australia.
In January 2021, Phillips said that the cyber analyst he had been working with encountered an “oddity in some of the URLs” such as vote4la.com, vote4detroit.com, and vote4boston.com, which Konnech’s “PollChief” software application used to gather personally-identifying information about poll workers.
Using Binary Edge, a software product companies use to identify and assess the risk of cyber breaches, “We began to look at where do these URLs actually resolve to. We found that most of them resolve to one IP address and that IP address — the URL resolved in China,” Phillips said.
“What we also learned in our review, apps.konnech.com [.net], resolved into this same URL in China, meaning that the application itself was residing in China,” he continued.
“In Binary Edge, 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.”
This database “stored the personally identifying information of over a million Americans,” he emphasized.
Engelbrecht and Phillips decided that “this was a major national security risk” and immediately took the information to the FBI.
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In 2005, Eugene Yu, the Founder of Konnech Inc., whose Chinese name is Jianwei Yu, founded a Chinese election company named Jinhua Yulian Network Technology Co. in Jinhua City, Zhejiang Province, China. On February 25, 2006, Yu registered the website “yu-lian.cn” for his Chinese election company to his American election company’s email address “email@example.com”. In a 2013 archived version of the website, Yu praised “Comrade Jiang Zemin” and the “Chinese Communist Party” before listing “Election Management Solutions, Detroit” and “US Overseas Voters” as his “Success Stories”. Source: https://web.archive.org/web/20220901015518/https://whois-history.whoisxmlapi.com/lookup-report/ax5DgQQp26
On July 31, 2015, Eugene Yu registered the website “hongzhengtech.cn” for a Chinese election company named Jinhua Hongzheng Technology Co. to his American election company’s email address “firstname.lastname@example.org”. Hongzheng Technology builds voting equipment and software for China’s National People’s Congress in partnership with Lenovo, Huawei, China Unicom, China Telecom, and China Mobile. Source: https://web.archive.org/web/20220901202006/https://viewdns.info/reversewhois/?q=admin%40konnech.com
In May 2022, China’s National People’s Congress in Zhejiang province voted using tablets and software built by Eugene Yu’s www.hongzhengtech.cn. Hongzheng Technology, which has more than 200 employees and offices in Zhejiang, Hangzhou, Shenzhen, Nanjing, and Wuhan, builds voting technology and mobile applications for China’s National People’s Congress in more than twenty provinces across China, according to their website.
When Engelbrecht and Phillips took this information to the FBI, the FBI “said the information was forwarded to their counter-intelligence operation, and a counter-intelligence op was opened up in January or February of 2021,” Phillips said.
Phillips described how he and Engelbrecht played an active role in the FBI’s operation, “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 and Engelbrecht noted that the field office that they worked with for those 15 months was “legitimate” and not “political law enforcement.”
“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,” Phillips said.
“The focus point was always we needed to remove this software from the election, but taking a step further, there were a lot of other concerns that the bureau had.”
The FBI agents indicated that Konnech had already “been on their radar” and that there were “lots of other problems” with the U.S. election company including “banking issues” and problems involving the company’s overseas operations in “Australia” and “Canada”.
In April 2022, Engelbrecht received a call from one of the FBI agents, who informed her that the FBI’s “Washington D.C. headquarters” was now involved in the investigation.
Engelbrecht described how everything changed after this call, “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 informed Engelbrecht that “two women” at the FBI’s headquarters believed that Phillips and Engelbrecht were “in the wrong for doing this” and that the D.C. office was now trying “to figure out how you guys broke the law to find all of this”.
Engelbrecht added, “which of course we didn’t, but that was kind of their MO [modus operandi], they were going to try to pin something on us, and today you can pick your headlines about how the FBI has done this time and again.”
Phillips remarked, “The problem is they know about this and they chose to do nothing. They chose to investigate it and in the end, they chose to blame us, but this is China. These are Chinese operatives in the United States, these are Chinese citizens who are programming this.”
Engelbrecht and Phillips, who have worked in the election industry for a combined fifty years, described how this was a “complete and total failure” of federal law enforcement, U.S. intelligence, and the Department of Homeland Security which is primarily responsible for the “critical infrastructure” making up the U.S. election system.
“In fact, 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,” Engelbrecht noted about Konnech CEO Eugene Yu’s membership on Votem Corp.’s Board of Advisors.
Furthermore, Phillips added, “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.”
Engelbrecht explained how the FBI agents initially hoped they could persuade the Washington D.C. office to do the right thing, “Our contacts were saying we are going to try and smooth this out, but as the days clicked on, they re-contacted us and one of them said you may need to be ready to — his term was to use the nuclear option and go to the press,” she said.
“And that is when we began to plan the Pit.”
In December 2006, Konnech built a “communication platform” for the Confucius Institute at Michigan State University according to the company’s Facebook. Source: Facebook
Shao Guojun, who built Konnech’s system architecture between 2006 and 2015, went on to become a “Senior Architect” at Huawei, where he worked on the Chinese telecom giant’s “cloud platform architecture”. Many of Konnech’s employees, including CEO Eugene Yu, graduated from Chinese universities such as Zhejiang University, Suzhou University, Nanjing University, University of Science and Technology of China, and HuaZhong University of Science and Technology. Source: LinkedIn
Shao Guojun, is a co-inventor on a 2012 patent with Eugene Yu and Konnech Inc. Guojun is also a co-inventor on this 2015 patent transferred from “Jinhua Konnech Inc.” to “Hongzheng Technology”. After spending eight years programming Konnech’s system architecture, Guojun went on to work for Hongzheng Technology partner and Chinese telecom giant Huawei. Source: https://portal.unifiedpatents.com/patents/patent/CN-104618378-A
With the FBI no longer interested in pursuing Konnech, Englebrecht and Phillips organized an event for Saturday, August 13th in Arizona called “the Pit” where they brought together about two hundred “researchers, independent journalists, and big thinkers” to share their story with.
“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,” Englebrecht said.
She continued, “There have been so many great things that have happened since that event, but one of the greatest, was this community that came out shoulder to shoulder saying let’s dig this, let’s see how much more information we can find.”
“The quality of research that has been done to supplement what we already had and to corroborate what we already had has been incredible.”
Phillips added, “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 it’s supported by the research of one of the best research teams that I’ve ever seen come together.”
“The data and research all stand on their own.”
Englebrecht concluded that Eugene Yu and the Konnech story is far from over and will continue to get stratospherically bigger.