Elon Musk has an agreement with the SEC: Get tweets pre-approved. And the agency means business.
Musk is trying to wiggle out of that agreement, calling the pre-approval situation "unworkable." But the top U.S. securities regulator asked a federal judge on Tuesday to keep the Tesla and SpaceX CEO tied to the agreement.
The SEC argued in a filing in the Manhattan federal court that Musk's 2018 deal should not be abandoned because he hasn't met the "high burden" needed to set it aside, according to Reuters. Musk and Tesla settled with the SEC in 2018 over fraud charges after he tweeted he could take Tesla private without filing the regulatory notices the SEC requires to make such an announcement about a publicly traded company. The settlement required Musk to pay $40 million in fines and subjects his Twitter account to review to avoid roiling the stock market again.
Musk recently sought to end the settlement and take back full, unchecked control of his Twitter. (Though if his latest tweets are any indication, Musk hasn't exactly been... checked.) His attorney has accused the SEC of attempting to "muzzle and harass Mr. Musk and Tesla" by opening investigations and issuing subpoenas into Musk's tweets. Musk was subpoenaed in November two weeks after he asked his followers if he should sell 10% of his Tesla stock, leading to a drop in Tesla's stock price.
"When it comes to civil settlements, a deal is a deal, absent far more compelling circumstances than are here presented," the SEC said in the filing on Tuesday.
Though Musk's tweets still must be monitored under this settlement, the SEC has struggled to enforce the terms of the deal. Tesla did name an independent chair as part of a committee to oversee that Musk is complying with the agreement, but it's unclear whether or not the committee is keeping a close eye.