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Tesla CEO Musk accuses SEC of calculated effort to ‘chill’ his right to free speech

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Elon Musk, chief executive officer of Tesla Inc., waves while departing court during the SolarCity trial in Wilmington, Delaware, U.S., on Tuesday, July 13, 2021.
Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Tesla CEO Elon Musk accused the Securities and Exchange Commission of harassment in a calculated effort to “chill” his right to free speech in its oversight of his communications with shareholders as part of a 2018 agreement that settled civil securities charges against the executive.

Musk and Tesla thought settling the charges would end the agency’s “harassment” of Musk and allow the court, not the agency to monitor his compliance, he said in the filing. “But the SEC has broken its promises,” Musk’s lawyer’s wrote in the filing, adding that the agency has been “weaponizing the consent decree by using it to try to muzzle and harass Mr. Musk and Tesla.”

The agency also hasn’t yet distributed $40 million to shareholders as agreed, according to the 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,” Musk said in a new court filing Thursday, seeking to bring the agency’s 2018 securities case against him to a close. “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.”

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