Elon Musk Says He Doesn't Respect SEC, Tweets Fall Under 'First Amendment'
Sunday night Tesla CEO Elon Musk appeared in an interview with 60 Minutes’ Lesley Stahl to discuss the electric automaker’s rise and current standing. Throughout the interview, an emotional Musk talked about familiar topics like his recent $20-million settlement with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission that cost him his Board Chairman position.
As part of Tesla’s separate, but additional $20 Million settlement, the company would need to appoint a new Board Chairman (ultimately choosing Robyn Denholm for the spot), hire two independent board members, and police Musk’s Tesla-related Tweets to ensure that they would not affect stock movement. The last point was almost immediately touched on by Stahl after Musk had informed her that Tesla was, in fact, not policing the CEO’s Tweets as required by the settlement.
“The only tweets that would have to be, say, reviewed”, would be if a tweet had a probability of causing a movement in the stock,” Musk explained, “Otherwise it’s ‘Hello, First Amendment’. Freedom of speech is fundamental.”
“But how do they know if it’s going to move the market if they’re not reading all of them before you send them?” Stahl rebutted, questioning just how Musk could be awarded judgment to decide which of his Tesla-related tweets are actually monitored.
“I guess we might make some mistakes, who knows? Nobody’s perfect,” said Musk, briefly snickering before putting on a serious face for his next comment. “I want to be clear; I do not respect the SEC. I do not respect them.”
To be clear, Musk is free to tweet about his personal life without a hitch. Below is a perfectly fine example of something which wouldn’t be subject to Tesla’s Twitter policing:
But, according to the terms of the settlement, any tweets pertaining to the automaker, such as one claiming that Tesla will “soon” be roadworthy for completely driverless interactions, would likely fall under the clause pertaining to mandatory “oversight of communications” before being sent to the world (Specifically, the settlement calls out Twitter by name).
Musk is no stranger to mocking the SEC. In October, just after the settlement had been accepted, the CEO egged on the regulatory body by calling it the “Shortseller Enrichment Commission,” causing shares to plummet almost immediately.
Later in the interview, Musk continued to slam the SEC’s decision to strip him of his Board Chairman title. Presumably, inadvertently, Musk undermined his successor by indicating that Denholm was not put in place to watch over Musk and had virtually no power due to the CEO having the majority fiscal stake in Tesla.
“I am the largest shareholder of the company,” Musk proclaimed. “And I can call for a shareholder vote and get anything done that I want.”
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