Tesla Tells Judge the SEC Scrutiny of Musk Is Harassment

Company says agency is picking on the CEO because he's critical of government
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 17, 2022 5:16 PM CST
Tesla Tells Judge the SEC Scrutiny of Musk Is Harassment
Elon Musk provides an update on SpaceX's Starship last week near Brownsville, Texas.   (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald via AP)

The latest tit-for-tat involving Elon Musk, his company, and the Securities and Exchange Commission could again test the patience of the federal judge who oversaw the 2018 settlement limiting Musk's tweets. When the SEC complained the next year that new tweets from Musk had broken the rules, US District Judge Alison Nathan told the opposing sides to "put their reasonableness pants on" and settle their differences. On Thursday, Tesla wrote to Nathan complaining that the SEC's oversight of its CEO's compliance with the deal amounts to harassment, the Wall Street Journal reports.

"The SEC seems to be targeting Mr. Musk and Tesla for unrelenting investigation largely because Mr. Musk remains an outspoken critic of the government," the letter says. Musk has expressed that criticism through mocking tweets, even immediately after he settled the case. He's attacked federal regulators in general, sometimes crudely, per the Journal. The case began with Musk's tweets in 2018 saying he planned to take Tesla private; the stock price jumped, and the SEC accused him of fraud. The letter says the SEC has collected $40 million in fines over the damage to shareholders but not sent the money to shareholders yet, which is out of sync with the agency's usual practices. The SEC hasn't responded to the letter yet.

The deal also required Musk to run tweets and certain other public statements through lawyers first. That might not have happened Wednesday night, when Musk tweeted a meme likening Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to Adolf Hitler, per Business Insider. The post, which has since been taken down, responded to an article saying Trudeau was going to block cryptocurrency donations to the protesters who have clogged Ottawa and Canada-US border crossings. Along with a photo of Hitler, the meme said: "Stop comparing me to Justin Trudeau. I had a budget." Musk didn't answer a request for comment about the meme. (Read more Elon Musk stories.)

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