Leadership

Pulte Lawsuit Update: A 2nd Exec Named In Twitter Activity Inquiry

Attorneys for William J. Pulte subpoena records, emails, texts, and social media links that may tie an additional PulteGroup official to the focus of a lawsuit filed against a former corporate senior executive.

Leadership

Pulte Lawsuit Update: A 2nd Exec Named In Twitter Activity Inquiry

Attorneys for William J. Pulte subpoena records, emails, texts, and social media links that may tie an additional PulteGroup official to the focus of a lawsuit filed against a former corporate senior executive.

January 13th, 2023
Pulte Lawsuit Update: A 2nd Exec Named In Twitter Activity Inquiry
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The mid-December timing of the deactivation and deletion of Twitter accounts that may tie to those central to the focus of William J. Pulte's lawsuit against a former senior executive of the PulteGroup may draw another PulteGroup official into the legal fray.

This week, company founder William J. Pulte’s grandson Bill Pulte filed a subpoena in Palm Beach County, Florida requesting Elon Musk’s Twitter release details on the activity of General Counsel Todd Sheldon. – CorpGov

A statement from PulteGroup investor relations in reply to a The Builder's Daily request for a response to the new subpoena's claims and terms reads:

The subpoena filed by Bill Pulte is part of a private lawsuit that does not involve PulteGroup. To be clear, neither PulteGroup nor any of its employees are a party to this lawsuit.

Still, the cover letter of a copy of the subpoena delivered to Todd Sheldon, specifically not in his "capacity as General Counsel of Pulte Group, Inc.," from William J. Pulte's attorney Jason Gordon suggests that private and individual matters may further entangle people and/or the company.

Focus of the connection between activities of former executive Brandon Jones – who left PulteGroup in December after evidence surfaced that he'd engaged in Twitter activities in violation of PulteGroup's code of conduct – centers on whether, when, and why Todd Sheldon de-activated and deleted one or more Twitter accounts.

An article in Law & Crime notes that Attorney Gordon's letter states that Sheldon – through a now-deactivated Twitter account operating under a pseudonym "@tniless" – interacted with Jones during his campaign of tweets aimed at disparaging William Pulte:

“You discussed this Twitter account with Pulte and another Director in 2018 or 2019,” the letter states. “Pulte was shocked and disappointed to learn that the Pulte Family’s correspondence with the Board of Directors pertaining to the allegations of the lawsuit, after coming into your possession, appears to have been used by you to address whether you have any personal liability as to the claims in the lawsuit.”
Pulte’s lawyer says that the “@tniless” either “knowingly or unknowingly” interacted with Twitter accounts attributed to Jones, including one named “Stephen Matthews” (@stephen_matthe), which the lawsuit linked to Jones’s email address.
Though Pulte’s lawyer says he discovered interactions between the “@tniless” and @stephen_matthe” accounts, he stops short of outright accusing Sheldon of conspiring with Jones.
“However, a review of your Twitter account has not at this time revealed any attacks directed at Pulte, the Pulte Family, or anything that amounts to violation of PulteGroup’s Code of Conduct,” the litigation hold letter says. “Thus, while you may not be a potential party to this lawsuit, you are a likely fact witness, including due to the fact that it appears you may have used privileged and confidential information belonging to the Board of Directors for personal means in deactivating or deleting your personal Twitter account. This is why Pulte asked the Board of Directors to put up a Chinese wall as to the Executive team, which includes you and your office. This presents a legal quandary.”

Since Tesla ceo Elon Musk took over Twitter late last year, Twitter has been losing users in droves, so it may be difficult to prove causation versus coincidence linking a specific date and reason of deletion and deactivation of Twitter accounts in the post-Musk era.

An ongoing bone of contention centers on William J. Pulte's original assertion that PulteGroup should bring on an independent third-party law firm to investigate the the Brandon Jones matter. Gordon's letter to Sheldon states:

Did your access to confidential information transmitted to the Board of Directors contribute to your recommendation of utilizing King & Spalding LLP to conduct an investigation of the allegations of the lawsuit, instead of hiring an independent law firm for the investigation into the alleged actions of Brandon Jones (and potential co-conspirators)?

We will update this story based on how much value we believe we can add to an issue that may prove to run its course outside the lines of homebuilding's business interests, or may not. It's too early for us to tell.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

John McManus

John McManus

President and Founder

John McManus, founder and president of The Builder’s Daily, is an award-winning editorial, programming, and digital content strategist. TBD's purpose is a community capable of constant improvement.

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