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You were supposed to be watching him. Letters from SEC claim Tesla breached deal to police Elon Musk's tweets

2020 missives from American securities regulator to car firm revealed

The SEC has repeatedly found itself frustrated by the bombastic tweets of Tesla CEO Elon Musk. And letters from the regulator have revealed that two of Musk’s postings were in breach of a previous settlement.

The letters, sent last year and obtained by the Wall Street Journal via a Freedom of Information request, showed the SEC had objected to two tweets in 2019 and 2020. One tweet pertained to the company’s solar roof production numbers, and the other opined: "Tesla stock price is too high imo".

In the letter, an SEC official accused Tesla of having “abdicated the duties required of it by the court’s order.”

This isn't the first complaint from the SEC, which in 2019 objected to tweets gloating about Tesla car production rates.

A court had previously ordered the electric carmaker to have its lawyers vet all tweets from Musk pertaining to the company. This move followed an incident where Musk tweeted he had secured funding to take the company private at $420 a share, causing its share price to briefly spike. As a general rule, the SEC frowns upon anything that even whiffs of market manipulation.

For our clean-living readers, the number ‘420’ is often used as shorthand for smoking the Devil’s Lettuce. As viewers of Joe Rogan’s podcast and a thousand memes thereafter might know, Elon Musk (legally) partook when he visited the host last year. (Recreational use has been legal in the state of California since 2016).

Still, one can’t help but pity the lawyers tasked with babysitting Musk’s Twitter usage. His account is a departure for the staid, sanitised norm set by other company execs. From downplaying the threat of COVID, to accusing an innocent Brit of paedophilia, Musk has repeatedly waded into controversy 280 characters at a time.

And then there’s Dogecoin. The least said about that, the better.

Complicating matters, Musk’s social postings have become the de-facto voice of the company, after it dissolved its entire PR department last year.

Nonetheless, we have asked Tesla to comment.

FCC sued over authorising Starlink tweaks

In other Musk news, his SpaceX business is facing a fresh threat from its competitors in the satellite communications sphere, after Dish Network and Viasat raised objections to authorisations made by the FCC for its Starlink business.

In one complaint [PDF] to the comms regulator, Dish Network claimed Starlink’s liberal access to the 12GHz band would interfere with its satellite TV transmissions. Viasat [PDF] has objected to the potential risk of debris collisions, caused by SpaceX's’s extensive network of broadband satellites, which may ultimately number as many as 42,000.

Additionally, consulting outfit the Balance Group [PDF] has accused the FCC of flouting environmental review procedures before approving Starlink’s extended constellation.

All three complaints have since been consolidated and brought before the D.C Circuit court. The plaintiffs want the court to vacate the previous permissions given to SpaceX that allowed it to lower the orbit altitude of its satellites, in order to improve coverage. ®

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