By CorpGov Editorial Staff
The Pulte family has filed a suit against PulteGroup, Inc. (NYSE:PHM) executive Brandon Jones following his alleged use of Twitter bots to stalk, harass and defame the company’s late founder William J. Pulte and his grandson Bill Pulte.
Bill Pulte, who was formerly an independent director of the company, said the family filed the suit in order to “protect the legacy of Pulte Homes, my grandfather who was my mentor and partner, as well as my own reputation and to prevent Jones from doing irreparable harm through his continued spreading of vicious lies.”
The lawsuit comes after years of tension between the Pulte family and Mr. Jones. Bill Pulte led the opposition to an expedited promotion of Mr. Jones in late 2018, successfully securing unanimous board approval against CEO Ryan Marshall’s request.
Mr. Jones was named Chief Operating Officer of PulteGroup in October and is expected to begin in the role formally on Jan. 1, 2023.
“Having recently been made aware of certain social media activity by a company executive, we are conducting a thorough investigation to determine the facts and whether there has been a violation of our company’s standards and policies,” a PulteGroup spokesman told CorpGov in an emailed statement. (Note that Mr. Jones was the subject of the lawsuit not PulteGroup).
The Pulte family’s complaint alleges that Mr. Jones used fake Twitter profiles to harass Bill Pulte and his followers. These fake profiles allegedly included appropriating the full identity of a deceased man, “Raymond Porter” of Olive Hill, Kentucky, who passed away on October 28, 2018, AI-generated profiles of males and females, posing as a fictitious business journalist covering PulteGroup, and numerous other pseudonymous identities.
“The Pulte Family, the founding family of PulteGroup, is utterly shocked that this behavior is being done by a Fortune 500 Executive, especially at our beloved Pulte Homes, and we have asked the independent board members of PulteGroup, who each have the ability to exercise their fiduciary duties to assist in any investigation to determine if any crimes were committed by Brandon Jones, including his undisclosed promotion of PulteGroup stock and information that may have been confidential,” said Bill Pulte, who is CEO of Pulte Capital and was a director of PulteGroup from 2016-2020.