Elon Musk accuses SEC of attacking his right to free speech
Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Thursday accused the Securities and Exchange Commission of undertaking a "harassment campaign" in an effort to "chill his exercise of First Amendment rights."
Driving the news: "[T]he SEC seems to be targeting Mr. Musk and Tesla for unrelenting investigation largely because Mr. Musk remains an outspoken critic of the government," a lawyer for Musk said in a court filing.
The big picture: Musk's accusation came in a letter to U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan, who had presided over a 2018 settlement with the SEC.
- As part of the settlement, Musk and Tesla each had to pay a $20 million fine, which was supposed to be distributed to shareholders. Musk also agreed to have company lawyers preapprove his social media posts.
- In 2018, the SEC sued Musk of making "false and misleading" statements related to his abandoned efforts to take Tesla Motors private.
- Musk had tweeted in August of that year that had "funding secured" for a takeover of the company at $420 per share.
Details: The court document says that the SEC has failed to pay Tesla's shareholders "the $40 million it collected as part of the settlement in these cases and that it purports to be holding for them."
- "Instead, it has been devoting its formidable resources to endless, unfounded investigations into Mr. Musk and Tesla."
- Later on Thursday, the judge responded to the letter ordering the SEC to file a response to Musk's letter by Feb. 24.
Musk's attorneys also accused the SEC of failing to distribute the shareholders' funds and asked the court to schedule a conference on the matter.