Tesla CEO Elon Musk accuses the SEC of calculated efforts to "cool down" free speech rights plaguing the company

Tesla CEO Elon Musk accuses the SEC of calculated efforts to “cool down” free speech rights plaguing the company

Tesla CEO Elon Musk accuses the SEC of a calculated effort to “cool down” his right to free speech by constantly dogging the company with legal trouble.

  • Elon Musk’s lawyers sent a letter to a Manhattan federal judge accusing the SEC of harassing him with investigations and subpoenas because of his Twitter posts.
  • In 2018, Musk and Tesla agreed to pay $20 million in civil penalties for Musk’s tweets that he had the money to take the company private at $420 per share.
  • Funding was far from secured and the company remains public.
  • The agreement specifies management changes, including Musk’s removal as chairman of the board of directors, as well as approving Musk’s tweets.
  • In a letter from lawyer Alex Spiro, the Securities and Exchange Commission is accused of trying to “muzzle” Musk, largely because he is an outspoken critic of the government.
  • “The SEC’s excessive efforts appear to be designed to limit its exercise of First Amendment rights, not to enforce generally applicable laws,” the letter said.

Tesla and its chief executive, Elon Musk, have accused regulators of trying to “freeze” his freedom of speech.

Musk accused the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of pursuing Tesla with an “endless” and “relentless” investigation to punish Musk for outspoken criticism of the government on Thursday.

The accusation came in a letter to U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan in Manhattan, who presided over a 2018 SEC settlement over Musk’s tweet about a potential Tesla buyout.

‘Mister. Musk and Tesla respectfully seek to correct course,” wrote Alex Spiro, Musk and Tesla’s lawyer. ‘Enough is enough.’

The SEC declined to comment.

Elon Musk's lawyers sent a letter to a Manhattan federal judge accusing the SEC of harassing him with investigations and subpoenas because of his Twitter posts.

Elon Musk’s lawyers sent a letter to a Manhattan federal judge accusing the SEC of harassing him with investigations and subpoenas because of his Twitter posts.

In a letter from lawyer Alex Spiro, the Securities and Exchange Commission is accused of trying to

In a letter from lawyer Alex Spiro, the Securities and Exchange Commission is accused of trying to “muzzle” Musk, largely because he is an outspoken critic of the government.

Thursday’s letter escalates Musk’s fight with regulators as they scrutinize his social media posts and Tesla’s treatment of workers, including allegations of discrimination.

This followed Tesla’s February 7 disclosure that it had received a subpoena from the SEC about its compliance with the 2018 settlement agreement.

Musk was sued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in August 2018 after he tweeted that he had “funding secured” to potentially take his electric vehicle company private at $420 a share. In fact, redemption was not even close.

Tesla and Musk settled, agreeing to pay $20 million each in civil penalties and to allow Tesla’s lawyers to pre-screen some of Musk’s communications, including tweets that could affect Tesla’s share price. Musk also stepped down as chairman of Tesla.

In 2018, Musk and Tesla agreed to pay $20 million in civil penalties for Musk's tweets that he had the money to take the company private at $420 per share.

In 2018, Musk and Tesla agreed to pay $20 million in civil penalties for Musk’s tweets that he had the money to take the company private at $420 per share.

In a letter from lawyer Alex Spiro, the Securities and Exchange Commission is accused of trying to

In a letter from lawyer Alex Spiro, the Securities and Exchange Commission is accused of trying to “muzzle” Musk, largely because he is an outspoken critic of the government.

The latest subpoena was sent on November 16, ten days after Musk polled his Twitter followers about whether he should sell 10% of his stake in Tesla, prompting a sell-off.

In Thursday’s letter, Spiro accused the SEC of ignoring its obligation to distribute $40 million in fines to shareholders, instead “deploying its massive resources on endless baseless investigations” into Musk and Tesla.

“Worst of all, the SEC appears to be going after Mr. Musk and Tesla for their relentless investigation largely because Mr. Musk remains an outspoken critic of the government; The overzealous efforts of the Securities and Exchange Commission appear to be calculated to freeze its exercise of First Amendment rights,” Spiro wrote.

Spiro asked Nathan to schedule a conference to find out why the SEC is “issuing subpoenas unilaterally” without court approval and why the money is not being distributed.

If the Securities and Exchange Commission finds that Musk has violated the settlement agreement, it can ask Nathan to drop it and reopen the case or bring new charges.

The letter comes eight days after the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued Tesla over allegations by black workers that the company was racially discriminatory at its Fremont, California plant.

Tesla called this lawsuit erroneous. He is also seeking to reduce or cancel a jury award of approximately $137 million to a black former elevator operator for subjecting him to harsh conditions at the Fremont plant.

Separately on Thursday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched a formal investigation into 416,000 Tesla Model 3 and Model Y vehicles after receiving complaints of unexpected braking related to its autopilot system.

Since October, Tesla has issued 10 recalls, including under pressure from the NHTSA.

At the end of the trading session on Thursday, Tesla shares fell 5% to $876.35.

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