Elon Musk’s erratic use of Twitter may have gotten him in trouble with the feds once again. On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating the Tesla and SpaceX founder over his Twitter poll in November asking followers if he should dump 10 percent of his stake in his (admittedly overvalued) electric-car company.
According to the Journal, the regulator’s inquiry began last year after Musk’s brother, Kimbal Musk, sold Tesla shares worth over $100 million the day before Elon posted the poll and pledged to stick with the vote. SEC lawyers are reportedly looking to find out if Elon told Kimbal about his poll before it went up. As a member of Tesla’s board of directors, Kimbal’s trading could potentially violate rules barring board members from trading on material nonpublic information — like if his brother was going to institute a sell-off in the coming days. After the majority of the more than 3.5 million people who voted told him to ditch the stock as a way to increase his tax burden, Elon Musk himself sold off billions of dollars in shares.
The reported investigation is the latest in the yearslong spat between the regulator and the CEO, who disdains accountability from the financial old guard. In 2018, Musk and Tesla settled a lawsuit alleging fraud at the company for a tweet in which he said there was “funding secured” for “taking Tesla private at $420.” The firm and its founder paid $20 million each in fines, and Musk agreed to step down from the chairman position for three years. Musk also agreed to get approval from the company’s legal team for tweets deemed material to Tesla shareholders, which the SEC said he violated frequently by posting about boosts in production and claiming its “stock price is too high imo.”