Trump Media fired executive whistleblower after he spoke to Washington Post, shared documents
In this photo illustration, the social media platform, Truth Social logo seen displayed on a smartphone with a photo of former US President Donald Trump displayed in the background.
Rafael Henrique | Lightrocket | Getty Images
Former President Donald Trump’s media company fired an executive Thursday after he shared internal documents from a Securities and Exchange Commission whistleblower complaint with The Washington Post and spoke with the newspaper, the news outlet reported Saturday.
Will Wilkerson was a senior vice president of operations at Trump Media and Technology, which owns the social network Truth Social, and was one of the company’s first employees.
Wilkerson filed the SEC whistleblower complaint in August, alleging that the company relied on “fraudulent misrepresentations … in violation of federal securities laws,” according to the Post, in its bid to be taken public via an investment vehicle known as special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC.
In the article, Wilkerson also described strife within Trump Media, including tension with CEO Devin Nunes, who, as a Republican congressman, was one of Trump’s most loyal defenders. Wilkerson also said another executive detailed how Trump pressured him to give shares in the company to his wife, Melania Trump.
A spokeswoman for Trump Media pushed back on the Post’s story and touted Truth Media’s availability on the Apple App Store, the Google Play Store and Samsung’s Galaxy Store. “As Chairman of TMTG, President Trump hired Devin Nunes as CEO to create a culture of compliance and build a world-class team to lead Truth Social,” the spokeswoman said a statement emailed to CNBC.
Digital World Acquisition Corp., the SPAC seeking to take the media company public, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
CNBC also reached out to Wilkerson’s attorneys for comment.
Trump Media fired Wilkerson for making “unauthorized disclosures” to the Post, the newspaper said. One of his lawyers called the firing a retalation against a whistleblower, according to the report. There are laws that protect whistleblowers.
The report comes as DWAC pushes its shareholders to vote to delay its planned merger with Trump Media, which was announced last year. DWAC has warned it could liquidate if it doesn’t complete the merger, which would be worth hundreds of millions of dollars to Trump Media.
DWAC CEO Patrick Orlando directed another of his companies to give DWAC funding to keep it afloat until December. He has already adjourned a shareholder meeting four times, an indication that he doesn’t have the shareholder support to delay the merger.
The Trump Media-DWAC deal is being investigated by regulators at the SEC and prosecutors in the Justice Department. Trump Media has blamed the SEC for delaying the deal.
In the article, he also described undisclosed discussions between Trump, his media company’s executives and Orlando last year, before DWAC went public and the deal was announced. Those talks may have violated SEC rules.
Wilkerson shared internal logs, memos, photographs, videos and other material relevant to the SEC investigation with the Post. All of the materials were previously provided to government investigators, the Post said, citing Wilkerson’s attorneys.
Trump Media had suspended the executive after the Miami Herald first reported the SEC complaint on Oct. 6, calling it a “blatant violation” of his nondisclosure agreement, the Post said.
Read the full Washington Post report here.
– CNBC’s Jack Stebbins contributed to this article.