There are famous celebrity feuds like that between The Rock and Vin Diesel, and then there are bemusing celebrity feuds like that between Elon Musk and the government. Both are entertaining, but only one actually has a huge impact on the world. While Time’s Man of the Year remains as overzealous as ever on Twitter, Musk finds himself in hot water once again as Tesla gets subpoenaed.
Tesla, Elon Musk’s electric car company, announced the subpoena on Monday. The subpoena came from the United States securities regulator relating to a settlement in which Tesla’s Chief Executive Elon Musk’s tweets on material information about the company needed further examination. Originally issued from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the request was issued on November 16th, just days after Elon Musk had polled Twitter on whether or not he should sell 10% of his stake in the company. It’s noteworthy to point out not only did the SpaceX and Tesla CEO go through with the sell-off after his poll ended with users agreeing he should sell, but also the reasoning behind his near $25 billion selloffs, which was sparked after select Senate members, such as Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders urged billionaires like Elon Musk to pay their fair share in taxes.
Not only did the mogul’s large Tesla sell-off create a frenzy for the stocks numbers, but it also caught the attention of the SEC, as it seems Elon Musk broke a previously agreed-upon settlement spanning back from 2018 in which Tesla was supposed to have a legal and regulatory compliance point person at Tesla to pre-approve any of Musks’ tweets regarding any information that could potentially affect the public companies stock price. In 2018, the SEC charged Musk with fraud following a Tweet he shared stating Musk had funding secured to take Tesla private at $420 per share.
Either Elon Musk had never previously heard the term “inside trading” before 2018, or the world’s richest man is just insanely naive. Following the tweet, the SEC sued Tesla. Musk and the car company settled out of court with the new Twitter babysitter rules, a hefty fine for both Tesla and Musk paying $20 million each, and a requirement that Musk relinquish his chairman responsibilities at Tesla for three years. But to absolutely no one’s surprise, Musk continued to use social media as a platform to spontaneously discuss the companies stock, while also trolling the SEC, one thing Elon Musk has proven to be notorious for.
Calling out the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Elon Musk once wrote on Twitter that the SEC stood for “short seller enrichment commission”. Similarly, Musk took another jab at the government agency this past December. Within weeks of receiving the newly disclosed SEC subpoena, Musk made light of whistleblowers in a classless Tweet. No stranger to the whistleblower topic, Reuters reported last year that the SEC had also opened an investigation into a whistleblower complaint that Tesla failed to properly notify its shareholders and the public of fire risks associated with solar panel system defects over several years.