Elon Musk told an appeals court that his victory in a San Francisco trial shows his 2018 deal with the US Securities and Exchange Commission requiring a Tesla Inc. lawyer to screen his company-related tweets should be thrown out.
Musk, Tesla’s chief executive officer and now the owner of Twitter Inc., has argued that the SEC is harassing him and that a consent decree he signed violates his free speech rights. He has specifically targeted the requirement for a screener, whom some have called his "Twitter sitter.”
Read More: Musk, SEC Settle Legal Fight Over His Tweets About Tesla
In the San Francisco trial, a federal jury took just two hours to clear Musk of civil claims by investors that he defrauded them when he tweeted in 2018 that he had "funding secured” to take Tesla private, sending shares of the electric car maker surging. Musk’s lawyer, Alex Spiro, argued the verdict confirms Musk’s claim that his tweets didn’t violate securities laws.
"The jury’s verdict provides further reason why the public interest in avoiding unconstitutional settlements easily subsumes the SEC’s purported stake in the consent decree,” Spiro said in a letter to the federal appeals court in Manhattan on Tuesday.
The SEC declined to comment on the letter.
Musk has battled with the SEC over his social media posts since the 2018 tweets, which prompted the regulator to sue, claiming Musk and Tesla had misled shareholders. Both settled with the SEC, each paying $20 million and agreeing that Musk’s Tesla-related tweets would be reviewed before he posts them.
US District Judge Lewis Liman in April refused to let Musk out of the deal, saying he was "simply bemoaning that he felt like he had to agree to it at the time” and now "wishes that he had not.”
Arguments in the appeal could come as soon as late March.
The case is US Securities and Exchange Commission v. Musk, 22-1291, 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals (Manhattan). – Bloomberg