She believed the I.R.S. litigation had been “a great fund-raising vehicle” for Ms. Mitchell “and her associates. I wanted to win the case and move on and not be a cottage industry.”
Ms. Mitchell, in a text, said that her legal team spent years doing “all the heavy lifting,” but was fired after issuing a public statement, which had been standard practice. “Problem is that Catherine hates it if anyone else deals with reporters,” she said.
Soon after the 2020 election, with its funding faltering in recent years, True the Vote got a windfall $2.5 million donation from Fred Eshelman, a Texas entrepreneur seeking evidence to overturn the election. But the effort sputtered and Mr. Eshelman sued, claiming he had been swindled.
He lost an initial round in Texas court and is now appealing. The suit alleges Ms. Engelbrecht and Mr. Phillips were in a romantic relationship and violated Texas law related to conflicts of interest, since True the Vote directed a “substantial portion” of Mr. Eshelman’s funds to OpSec.
Asked about a personal relationship, Ms. Engelbrecht said, “You know, Gregg and I have actually talked about this and how we would answer this question. And the best answer that I think either of us are going to give is, it is totally unrelated and unimportant.”
True the Vote’s eventual focus on ballot trafficking was inspired by an Arizona investigation into ballot collection in the 2020 primary that led to indictments.
But True the Vote’s efforts have prompted little action from law enforcement. Last year, after True the Vote circulated its research in Georgia, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said the cell data turned over, which tracked people to within 100 feet, was insufficient to act on.
“What has not been provided is any other kind of evidence that ties these cellphones to ballot harvesting,” the bureau said in a letter. “For example, there are no statements of witnesses and no names of any potential defendants to interview.” It added that while the group had said it had “a source” who could validate such findings, “despite repeated requests that source has not been provided.”