Monday, December 17, 2018

Brandon Guttery, the son of a Birmingham wealth manager -- David Guttery, of Keystone Financial -- initiates an odd conversation about his father's status as a paying customer at notorious Ashley Madison site

Brandon and David Guttery
The college-aged son of a senior account manager at a Birmingham wealth-management company -- the father has been included in our coverage of paying customers at the Ashley Madison extramarital-affairs Web site -- recently contacted me, and what seemed to be a benign communication veered into an accusation that I had engaged in criminal activity.

When I pointed out the possible repercussions of the son's false accusation, he ultimately expressed sorrow about what he had said -- but I was left with the impression that I had been the target of defamation, and I'm considering appropriate legal action.

Brandon Guttery is a senior at the University of Alabama and has worked as an intern for his father, David Guttery, at Keystone Financial Group in the Birmingham suburb of Trussville. David Guttery was the subject of a December 2016 post about his activities at Ashley Madison. Before publishing that post, I contacted David Guttery seeking comment, but he never responded -- never denied that he was a married suburban father who participated in the unsavory milieu at Ashley Madison.

Brandon Guttery contacted me on Oct. 9, 2018, for . . . well, I have no idea about the real reason he contacted me. But things started innocently enough before turning a bit ugly. Here's the beginning:

Dear Rodger (sic),

My name is Brandon Guttery, and I am writing you this evening under sad pretenses. I partook in a university fraternal event where I googled my own name, in an effort to see what company recruiters see when they research job applicants. When searching however, I came across an image of my father, David, with the infamous "Ashley Madison" website attached to his name.

On December 20th 2016, you wrote an article on your Legal Schnauzer blog about him, which I assume corresponds to the data breach the website underwent about that time. In reading through your article, I noticed you italicized "Ashley Madison" however there are no hyperlinks to evidence or information regarding David's usage. I write to ask: Do you still have that information available, and if so could you forward it to me?

I apologize [that] our first encounter is under such a circumstance. In writing this email I mean no disrespect or offense, as I only seek the truth.

Here is my initial response:

Yes, I have the data, and I'm still using it for future articles, so I don't want to forward it -- plus, it's in an extremely large file, and I'm not aware of any way to provide a hyperlink to that. I sought comment from your dad before running the post, but never heard back from him.

At that point, we had been polite and respectful toward each other, but the whole thing gave off a slightly funny smell, so I was braced for the tone to change at some point, if the interaction continued -- and it did. From Brandon Guttery:

Rodger (sic):

I can understand your hesitation of forwarding the information, however I am the last person you need fear of jeopardizing your future articles by doing something with the information.

I am only after the truth. Two years later and I only discover this by accident, so other data subsets included in the file are of no interest to me. But, if that does not dissuade your skepticism of my motives, would you be willing to direct me to the source where you first obtained the document?

Hmmm . . . this young fellow wanted my sources and research materials? He obviously did not have much experience at dealing with the press. And the "trust me" tone of that first paragraph made me less likely to trust him. Still, things moved along OK -- for a while:


It's not a matter of skepticism; I'm just not going to share my research materials with anyone. If you ask any journalist a similar question, I think you will get the same response. I would suggest you discuss this with your father. My invitation for him to contact me is still out there.

That seemed to satiate young Mr. Guttery, and he responded with this:


So be it.

If I know my father, he never will.

Thank you for your time.

My response?

You're welcome.

I thought that was the end of it. But the next morning, it became clear I was wrong about that. And it did not take long for the conversation to veer in a wildly different direction.

(To be continued)


Anonymous said...

This kid thinks he can ring up a journalist-blogger and say, "Hey, I'd like a copy of your notes for such and such story"?

This young buck has some learning to do.

Anonymous said...

Brandon Guttery . . . DEFENDER OF TRUTH

Anonymous said...

I look at that photo and the words "white privilege" come to mind. Why is that?

Swamper said...

Did this guy think he was calling the customer service desk at Best Buy?

Anonymous said...

Strange dude. He says he wants the truth, but he never suggests your story isn't true.

So what is his point?

legalschnauzer said...

@10:11 --

That baffled me, too. I wanted to say, "Read the story, it's all right there."

I guess that's why I suggested he ask his dad. The father knows it's true.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the kid plans to take over daddy's business and doesn't want the scent of Ashley Madison showing up on Web searches.

Anonymous said...

You definitely build up the suspense. Hope we don't have to wait too long hanging onto this cliff. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

This kid accused you of committing a crime?

legalschnauzer said...

@1:44 --

Yep. Details will be in Part 2.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the young pup doesn't have the mad internetz skillz the Schnauzer has. If so could this possibly contribute to a buildup of residual butt hurt?

e.a.f. said...

In my opinion, the kid is bat shit crazy. It wouldn't be his father's name future employers would be goggling, but his. the language he uses is nothing a young kid his age would use. It's almost like his first language isn't English or he was an English major and is very old. wonder where this actually came from. Like was it even the kid who was goggling this and some one wants to make an issue out of this 2 years after the post went up. Yikes.

Quite weird he wanted you to forward information to him. He could have just re read the blog. If he wanted your notes, good luck with that, its called "work product" and people don't share that. Some thing is up and it ain't the sun.

Some one referred to "white priviledge". Perhaps that is what it is, but I would suggest its more like "class priviledge". He may be under the impression you don't have an education. He may not be aware that a few years ago you were on a list of the 10 best legal blogs in the U.S.A. No that kid, if it is the kid, is up to something and its weird

legalschnauzer said...

e.a.f. --

I agree it's weird, and I guess that's partly why I wrote the posts. I wanted to give readers insight into the peculiar events that can occur when you engage folks in the blogosphere. Certainly seems odd, as you note, that young Brandon only became aware of the post about his father two years after the fact. The God talk was getting creepy, to me, but that seems to be a common communication crutch for suburban white types, and Trussville, AL, is very much that kind of environment. It's the primary suburb east of Birmingham. The idea seems to be: When in doubt invoke God's name!

Also strange that he referenced a "business deal," while also mentioning my legal issues (or whatever exact phrase he used). He gives the impression he had not read the blog much, so how did he become aware of legal stuff? Did someone fill him in on that?