back to article CEO Elon Musk wants out of Tesla tweet jail. Lol, no, says SEC

Having been found not liable for securities fraud stemming from a 2018 tweet saying he had funding to take Tesla private, Elon Musk is trying yet again to get out of his "Twitter sitter" consent decree. America's financial watchdog, the Securities and Exchange Commission, is having none of it.  The consent decree is an …

  1. Omnipresent Bronze badge

    He also is moving,

    I am not here to vilify him as a- person. I'm here to question him on many sites, on many instances. He does not seem to know right from wrong. I can help. I am sure you know how. It's ok. I'm not trying to hurt you. You are just doing it wrong. Get with me the hard way if serious: I just want to do no evil.

  2. nintendoeats Silver badge

    Ok, let's look at the source code:

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

    And pseudo-code the relevant snippet:

    "Government agents shall not create rules which criminalize speech //throws an exception in specific cases, see SupremeCourt.cpp"

    So the points of issue are really whether A: this is a rule and B: it criminalizes his speech.

    Point A, is a contract a rule? It's easy to say that this is irrelevant because he agreed to it, but I don't think that totally resolves the question (not all agreements are legally recognized, even when both parties consent with full knowledge). I wouldn't blame you for saying no, but I find myself spinning around in circles pondering it.

    Point B, does it criminalize his speech? I believe that the charges were criminal and not civil, so lets say that had he not agree that would have meant criminal charges. One could argue, and I'm not claiming to back this, that in effect the SEC was extorting a restriction of his free speech under thread of criminal law, which indirectly means that the SEC was "criminalizing" the speech being restricted. One could equally argue for the other side that Elon was handed a get out of jail free card. If the SEC couldn't offer such consent decrees as an option that it would increase the likihood of people being prosecuted as criminals; thus, how can it possibly be seen as a criminalization if it offers options to REDUCE criminal liability?

    Somewhere down in the bowels of this nonsense are some interesting legal questions to chew on.

    1. Martin-73 Silver badge

      I think a more relevant comparison would be the 'no free speech without consequences' bit (yelling fire in a crowded theatre for example). He has, to continue the analogy, repeatedly done just that, and the court have said 'enough, now you have to wear a gag in theatres'

      1. martinusher Silver badge

        He makes a remark, a bunch of speculators jump on some stock expecting to make a killing and they don't. "No Fair!" we hear, we want our expected unearned profit or someone's going to have to pay.

        Sorry, but this isn't good enough. If he had published this material in an official document like a 10K filed with the SEC then that's a different matter. But a Tweet? Come on, if you fall for stuff like that you shouldn't be an investor (except maybe you should because the rest of us needs speculators to haircut).

        1. MrDamage Silver badge

          No, he pumps and dumps. No matter how much you put window dressing on it, he is just a pump and dump charlatan.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Did you check Supreme Court rulings on "commercial speech" first?

    3. DJO Silver badge

      There is a difference between Congress and the SEC.

      There is also a significant difference between "free speech" and "speech without consequences". It's the later one people like Musk want but in a civilised society you cannot have speech without consequences if you want that society to thrive for all members of that society.

    4. Not Yb Bronze badge

      None of this applies, as he signed a consent decree (aka contract between SEC and EM) agreeing to the lawyer vetting, which contained a clause stating that he would not challenge the consent decree.

      He's becoming quite well known for signing things he later regrets. cf... bluebird of unhappiness, etc.

    5. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      There's no unsettled Constitutional question here. The SEC has general power to restrict public expression by corporate insiders when it might affect investment. No US court has been inclined to entertain challenges to that.

  3. Omnipresent Bronze badge

    He literally posted his own tweets, and russian propaganda tweets, over everything else for a reason. Now he wants to move back to cali? (cue LL cool J). If you think Murdoch is "not being heard" you need to check yourself. With a professional.

    1. martinusher Silver badge

      "Russian Propaganda Tweets" I presume are "Tweets I Don't Agree With"?

      Musk (and, unfortunately, Trump) are demonstrating what free speech should sound like. Its irritating, its annoying but its not criminal. And its most definitely not "Fire! In a crowded theater".

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

      2. genghis_uk

        I've said it before and I will undoubtedly have to do it again... quoting the "fire in a crowded theater " nonsense just makes it look like you don't know what you are talking about.

        It was never really about freedom of speech - it was used to justify an egregious curtailment of freedom that the Supreme court later overturned. Even the original author later retracted it.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Right. Kevin White wrote a good piece on it on Popehat. Basically, if you see someone trot that example out, you can be fairly sure they haven't read much about the history of First Amendment jurisprudence in the US.

  4. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    If Musk wants to end the consent decree...

    ... then end both sides of it and send him to prison for securities fraud.

    1. Lil Endian Silver badge

      Re: If Musk wants to end the consent decree...

      So his choice is between submitting to SEC's demands, or submitting to... I think you can see where that's going! Will Muskyboy?

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: If Musk wants to end the consent decree...

        That's something you agree to when you become an officer of a publicly-traded corporation registered in the US. It's no different from having to obey the rules of the road when you drive on public highways. You make a choice to use an optional service regulated by the government; you play by the government's rules.

      2. Orv Silver badge

        Re: If Musk wants to end the consent decree...

        If he thinks he has such a good legal case he should put up or shut up. The reason he signed was to avoid going to court.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Musky Musk

    The poor little rich boy.

  6. 45RPM Silver badge

    It’s easy to imagine Musk riding around in the old west, in a garishly painted cart, selling miracle cure alls and preventatives to the hard-of-critical-thinking.

    There’s a reason why we have standards governing everything from advertising through to broadcast and all stops in between - it isn’t to limit free speech, rather it is to protect people from the harm that loose talk can do. To take real world examples, look at the lives lost because of the antivax lies, the lives lost to racist ideology, the damage caused by Brexit - all the result of permitting the dissemination of ideas without any supporting evidence. Alternative ‘facts’.

    And the problem is that truth is binary. It isn’t a case of fact and alternative fact. It’s simply fact and lies. The grey area, the nuance, comes from extrapolation and opinion - but those extrapolations and opinions have to have a solid foundation of fact - or they are valueless. And as we have seen, time and time again, Elon Musk doesn’t actually care whether something is true or not - just as long as he gets his own way. And we can’t afford to have any more narcissists in this world - they’re wrecking the place and they won’t be the ones to clear up the mess.

    So anything that can be done to silence Musk (and the other liars) has to be a good thing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I think the man needs help.

      Either from a qualified psychiater, or to be the first person travelling to Mars.

      In the B Ark.

  7. nautica Silver badge

    Musk should consider invoking the 'Yogi Berra Defense'. It worked fabulously for Yogi...

    "I didn't say all them things I said."---Lawrence Peter 'Yogi' Berra, 1986

    1. Orv Silver badge

      Re: Musk should consider invoking the 'Yogi Berra Defense'. It worked fabulously for Yogi...

      Nobody wants a Tesla anymore, they're too popular.

  8. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Not found innocent

    The decision seems to be one of the plaintiffs not being able to demonstrate injury rather than Elon not guilty of making false statements. In a civil case, there has to be a finding that the plaintiff can show they've been injured so some sort of compensation can be assessed. My opinion is Elon hath sinned.

    I'm awaiting what the Court of Chancery has to say about his massive compensation package. One of these days, one of the many lawsuits is going to go against Elon and it will be a big one. His Teflon® coating is going to wear off off at some point.

    1. Orv Silver badge

      Re: Not found innocent

      I hope so. But I fear that he's at that level of wealth and power where the law simply does not apply to him.

  9. Timop

    This guy might be world fastest deal signer. Too bad award for it is not to be able to escape the deals.

  10. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "he voluntarily agreed to it – twice"

    Yeah but, in Musk's mind, that doesn't matter because he has changed his mind. In his world, that is all that matters.

    Thank goodness we live in a world that still has a smidgen of sense left to the higher instances which are not (yet) completely overrun by pea-brained, nonsense-spouting scum who are willing to claim loud and clear that the weather's fine even if it's raining cats and dogs outside. The list is long, but for me, it started with the antics of the board at ICANN. Pai is the first to have demonstrated just how untouchable an asshole can be when he's at the top. The rest of the scum watched and learned, and we ended up with the OHSG, the crowning achievement in bullshit-spewing.

    These people are not complete idiots. I'm sure they know what they're doing, the question is : why are they doing it ?

  11. Groo The Wanderer

    There is a reason he is in Tweet Jail, and he still isn't reformed enough to realize WHY.

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