Elon Musk and Tesla are accusing the SEC of partaking in a “calculated effort to chill” his right to freedom of speech in its oversight of the communication with Tesla’s shareholders.
The feud between Musk and the SEC began in 2018 with a tweet. Musk said, “Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.”
The tweet launched a lawsuit brought by the SEC against Musk, alleging that he made “false and misleading” statements to Tesla’s investors.
As part of the lawsuit’s settlement, Musk had to leave his position as CEO of Tesla for at least three years. Also, both Musk and Tesla had to pay $20 million in fines, and Tesla was required to monitor Musk’s public comments.
The lawyer of Elon Musk and Tesla, Alex Spiro, said in a filing, “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 SEC’s outsized efforts seem calculated to chill his exercise of First Amendment rights rather than to enforce generally applicable laws in evenhanded fashion,” Spiro added.
Musk’s public reputation as a right-leaning, free-speech-defending “critic of the government” began with a dispute with local California health officials who were not allowing Tesla to reopen its car factories in 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
In April of 2020, Musk called the COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders “fascist,” and in May of 2020, Musk fired off a tweet that raised everyone’s suspicions.
Take the red pill 🌹
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 17, 2020
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After much dissatisfaction with the California government, Musk personally moved to Texas in December of 2020 for the business climate. Musk said the best thing government should do for business is “just get out of the way.” In December of 2021, Elon Musk officially moved Tesla completely to Texas.
Besides critiquing government policies, Musk has also spoken out on certain social issues such as ‘wokeness.’ In an interview with The Babylon Bee, Musk called wokeness “divisive, exclusionary, and hateful.”
Musk’s dislike of ‘cancel culture’ and advocacy for free speech has led to many online brawls with social media platform CEOs. He once tweeted a meme about Jack Dorsey being one of Stalin’s henchmen.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 1, 2021
Last month, Musk replied to one of Dinesh D’Souza’s tweets about changing the “political and cultural landscape” through buying popular social media platforms, TV networks, and creating an online university. Musk called these ideas “interesting.”
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) January 28, 2022
As Musk continues to criticize the left and show more support to the right, more threats to his freedom of speech are likely to surface.
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