Musk’s tweets could get him in federal trouble — again

Tesla CEO Elon Musk sent a series of bizarre tweets Friday that sent the electric carmaker’s stock tumbling and wiped billions off the company’s valuation.

But the tweets may have another effect: Drawing the attention of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, (SEC), which has filed charges against Musk in the past for his tweets.

On Friday, Musk said that the stock price of Tesla was too high, a comment that sent Tesla’s stock plummeting as much as 13%.

The comments come two years after Musk’s infamous tweets about taking Tesla private — a plan he claimed had already secured funding — sent the stock price soaring. The Tesla CEO was later sued by the SEC for “false and misleading” statements that sent investors and analysts into a frenzy.

The settlement between Musk and the SEC required him to step down as the electric carmaker’s chairman, and included a $20 million penalty for both Tesla and Musk himself. But things quickly went sour when Musk tweeted about how many Model 3s the company would make, contradicting official guidance from Tesla and apparently without prior approval.

The SEC asked Musk for proof he was having his statements screened and later filed to have him held in contempt. Musk said the tweets were not in violation of the settlement and accused the SEC of an “unconstitutional power grab” in court papers.

Tesla agreed to “put in place additional controls and procedures to oversee Musk’s communications.” The agreement, which was finally approved last year, required Musk to seek pre-approval from a securities lawyer if his tweets involve Tesla’s financial condition and other such matters.

Digital Trends reached out to Tesla to see if a lawyer had approved Musk’s latest tweets, but didn’t immediately hear back. Digital Trends also asked the SEC for comment on Musk’s tweet and will update this story when we hear back.

Friday’s bizarre tweetstorm is the latest in a wild week for Musk, who also recently tweeted his disapproval of the lockdowns in place to help curb the spread of coronavirus. He later called the shelter-in-place guidelines “fascist” during a Tesla quarterly earnings call and then returned to Twitter to rant against the measures.

It remains to be seen what sanctions, if any, Musk will receive from his tweets. The effect on Tesla, meanwhile, is already staggering, as $14 billion has been wiped off from the company’s stock market value, according to Financial Times.

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