Tesla and Elon Musk’s efforts to strike back at the Securities and Exchange Commission over the agency’s alleged harassment of the CEO and his First Amendment rights appear to have met their first roadblock. In a two-page order on Thursday, US District Judge Alison Nathan denied Musk and Tesla’s request for a court hearing on their claims that the SEC was targeting the company and the CEO with unrelenting investigations.
On February 17, Tesla lawyer Alex Spiro submitted a letter to the US District Court for the Southern District of New York outlining the company and Musk’s complaints about the SEC. The letter alleged that the agency had been targeting Musk since the CEO is an outspoken critic of the government. The complaint also alleged that the SEC was taking too long to distribute Musk and Tesla’s $40 million fine to TSLA shareholders, which were paid following the CEO’s “funding secured” fiasco in 2018, more than three years ago.
Tesla and Musk asked for a court conference to discuss its complaints. However, in a two-page order on Thursday, US District Judge Alison Nathan denied the EV maker and CEO’s request, stating that it wasn’t clear what Tesla and Musk were asking for in their letter. The judge also suggested that Tesla and Musk should file a proper request with the court if they seek relief. “The defendants’ precise application to the Court is unclear,” Nathan wrote.
Musk and the SEC’s feud has been quite notable as of late. Earlier this week, Spiro submitted another letter addressed to Judge Nathan alleging that at least one member of the SEC staff leaked certain information regarding its investigation. “This leak is emblematic of the vindictive, improper conduct that occasioned my letter: the SEC is retaliating against Mr. Musk and Tesla, without answering to the constraints of principle or law in so doing,” the letter read.
Musk also recently noted on Twitter that while he did not start the fight with the SEC, he would be the one to finish it. The executive also remarked that he has been “building a case” against the agency.
The SEC, for its part, has denied Tesla and Musk’s claims in its own letter to the judge. The agency argued that it had made it a point to speak and communicate with Tesla and Musk before issues were raised in court. The SEC also rejected the notion that it was taking too long to distribute the $40 million fine to TSLA shareholders since the process for doing so was extremely complex. The agency did note, however, that a plan to share and distribute the funds to TSLA investors should be ready around March 2022.
More recently, reports emerged stating that the SEC had launched an investigation on whether Musk and his brother Kimbal violated securities law when they sold TSLA shares last year.
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