Former President Donald Trump’s Trump Media & Technology Group, which owns Truth Social, fired its senior vice president of operations Will Wilkerson after he blew the whistle on the company to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the media, The Washington Post reports.
Wilkerson filed a whistleblower disclosure with the SEC in August and was allegedly fired by Trump Media on October 13 after speaking to The Post. Wilkerson says that he was first suspended by Trump Media on October 6 after the Miami Herald first reported on his whistleblower complaint.
Under the Dodd-Frank Act, it is illegal for employers to retaliate against employers who contact the SEC about potential securities violations. The SEC has taken a number of enforcement actions against companies that violate these provisions. In February 2021, the SEC charged the investment adviser GPB Capital with violating the Dodd-Frank Act’s whistleblower retaliation provisions.
Wilkerson’s SEC disclosure concerns Trump Media’s attempts to raise funds through a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). The SPAC, Digital World Acquisition, acknowledged in a December 2021 filing that the SEC was investigating its merger with Trump Media. According to Wilkerson’s whistleblower complaint, Trump Media made “fraudulent misrepresentations concerning the attempted mergers between these companies in violation of federal securities laws.”
Wilkerson alleges that Trump Media and Digital World Acquisition had “substantive communications” about a merger before Digital World had gone public, violating SEC rules. In May 2021, Digital World said in its registration form that it and its representatives had not “initiated any substantive discussions, directly or indirectly, with any business combination target.”
Wilkerson is cooperating with SEC investigators and federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York, The Post reports. Wilkerson reportedly provided the SEC with “a detailed, day-to-day computer log compiled by company co-founder Wes Moss, [co-founder Andy] Litinsky and Wilkerson about their daily company-related activities” as well as “numerous other memos, photographs and videos that chronicled the creation of Trump Media.”
In addition to anti-retaliation protections, the SEC Whistleblower Program offers monetary awards to qualified whistleblowers, individuals who voluntarily provide the agency with original information that leads to a successful enforcement action. Since 2012, the SEC has awarded over $1.3 billion to over 280 individual whistleblowers.