The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) denied Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s assertion that the federal agency is trying to “chill” his free speech.
After Musk said on Twitter in 2018 that he wanted to take Tesla private, the SEC — which is charged with regulating public markets — reached a settlement with the billionaire entrepreneur in order to limit his social media use related to Tesla. However, the SEC has not distributed the $40 million in collected fines to shareholders and continues to subpoena Tesla regarding Musk’s social media use, according to a filing earlier this week.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the agency believes “its engagement with Tesla and Mr. Musk about how they comply with the policy is consistent with the expectations of the court overseeing the settlement.”
“The commission’s enforcement staff have … sought to meet and confer with counsel for Tesla and Mr. Musk to address any concerns regarding Tesla and Mr. Musk’s compliance,” wrote senior SEC official Steven Buchholz in a letter to a Manhattan federal judge.
As The Daily Wire reported on Thursday, Musk’s counsel wrote that Tesla thought settling the charges would conclude the SEC’s “harassment” of Musk, observing that “the SEC has broken its promises” and is now “weaponizing the consent decree by using it to try to muzzle and harass Mr. Musk and Tesla.”
“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 filing explained. “The SEC’s outsized efforts seem calculated to chill his exercise of First Amendment rights rather than to enforce generally applicable laws in evenhanded fashion.”
Indeed, Musk is frequently outspoken on national political issues — and appears to be no fan of President Joe Biden.
When the White House has featured electric vehicle makers such as GM and Ford at various events, Tesla — the world’s largest electric vehicle manufacturer — has been sometimes omitted. The snubbing may lie in the fact that Tesla is not unionized — as White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki hinted last year when she was asked why Tesla was not invited to an electric vehicle summit in which Ford and GM participated.
“Well, we, of course, welcome the efforts of all automakers who recognize the potential of an electric vehicle future and support efforts that will help reach the president’s goal. And certainly, Tesla is one of those companies,” Psaki said. “Today, it’s the three largest employers of the United Auto Workers, and the UAW president who will stand with President Biden as he announces his ambitious new target, but I would not expect this is the last time we talk about clean cars, the move toward electric vehicles, and we look forward to having a range of partners in that effort.”
When asked if Tesla was omitted because it was not unionized, Psaki repeated that attendees included “the three largest employers of the United Auto Workers.”
“I’ll let you draw your own conclusions,” she added.
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