Aaron Bernstein / Reuters
- The SEC gave Tesla CEO Elon Musk until March 11 to argue why he did not violate a court order last month after he tweeted an inaccurate statement about the company’s vehicle production.
- The SEC order had mandated that Musk seek approval for tweets material to the company.
- Musk filed his response to the court, arguing the SEC was seeking to expand on the order with its interpretation, and that its interpretation violates his First Amendment right to free speech.
As ordered, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has filed his response to the Securities and Exchange Commission, arguing against the agency’s assertion that he was in contempt of court when he fired off tweets about Tesla’s production numbers last month.
In the filing, Musk claims the SEC is attempting expand on the terms of its settlement with from last year by limiting his speech on Twitter and that in doing so it seeks to violate his First Amendment rights.
Musk also claims that he has been "diligently attempted to comply" with the SEC, and that the SEC’s use of Musk’s comments on a "60 Minutes" interview as proof of his violation reflected a "concerning and unprecedented overreach on the part of the SEC."
This all goes back to ‘funding secured’
All of this drama datest back to last August, when Musk tweeted that had funding secured to take Tesla private at $420 a share. He did not.
So the SEC fined him and Tesla $20 million each, arguing that his false statement illegally manipulated Tesla’s stock. As part of that settlement, Musk was ordered to run any tweets containing material statement through a Twitter czar of sorts.
Last month, Musk tweeted that Tesla would make 500,000 cars in 2019 — a figure 25% higher than what Tesla projected in its company filings. Musk, hours later, corrected the tweet saying that he meant Tesla would achieve an annualized production of 500,000 cars between Q4 2019 and Q2 2020.
But the damage was done. The day after the tweet Tesla’s chief lawyer quit, and within a week the SEC had filed a claim stating that Musk was in contempt of court. The SEC cited not only the 500,000 car tweet, but also an interview Musk did with 60 Minutes in which he criticized the SEC and admitted that the Twitter czar was not checking all of his tweets.
He told interviewer Leslie Stahl that he might make some mistakes.
Musk had until March 11th the respond to that.
Mistakes figure heavily into Musk’s rebuttal to the SEC, as do his First Amendment rights and the idea that he is being
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