Last Updated on January 13, 2023
Twitter philanthropist BILL PULTE is currently suing recently fired Chief Operating Officer BRANDON JONES of PulteGroup, a Fortune 500 company and the third largest homebuilder in the United States.
The company was started by Pulte’s grandfather and namesake, William J. Pulte III.
The lawsuit comes after a series of defamatory fake accounts, or bots, were found to be controlled by JONES.
On December 12, in order to avoid public controversy, Mr. Pulte, a former member of the Board of Directors, sent an email to his former colleagues at PulteGroup making them aware of the allegations and legal and regulatory exposure for the company.
Pulte asked the Board to firewall itself off from Management (defined as C-suite executives with particular oversight obligations by the SEC) and hire independent counsel to conduct an independent investigation.
Somehow, management intercepted or otherwise became aware of the correspondence between the Pulte Family and the PulteGroup Board of Directors. Executive Vice President and General Counsel, TODD SHELDON, the chief legal officer for the $9.4 billion dollar homebuilder, then deactivated his own Twitter account on the same day the Board received notice.
Twitter deactivations set accounts to a private status which hide digital forensic data and also set the account for automatic deletion within 30 days.
Ultimately, it appears the Board either chose to do an internal probe with Management investigating itself with existing contractors or was advised that by General Counsel Sheldon, whose behavior is a clear conflict-of-interest. This presents huge legal implications.
Because of the relationship between JONES and SHELDON, on December 16, unaware of SHELDON’s alteration of his own personal Twitter account, counsel for PULTE sent SHELDON, in his personal capacity, a Preservation Letter. Again, PULTE is going out of his way to make sure this doesn’t embarrass the company he held steward for four years as a former director.
On December 16, PulteGroup terminated JONES after it said it “determined he had violated the Company’s Code of Ethical Business Conduct.”
Pulte filed a subpoena with a Florida court late Monday, January 9, in an attempt to halt any data or evidence destruction by Twitter, triggered by SHELDON’s request for the platform to deactivate his personal account.
The subpoena seeks to preserve the data on Twitter’s servers and obtain answers to see if the Sheldon account interacted at all with any of the accounts alleged to be in control of JONES.