Tesla CEO Elon Musk has accused the SEC of making an “unconstitutional power grab” after the agency filed contempt of court charges over his social media posts.
The Verge reports that Tesla CEO Elon Musk lashed out at the SEC this week, claiming that no contempt of court charges should have been filed against him as he did not violate his settlement agreement and “there is no basis to issue contempt sanctions against him.” A new court filing states that Musk “correctly used his discretion to determine” that a tweet he posted on February 19 “did not contain information that could reasonably be considered material” to Tesla.
The filing claims that Musk’s tweets are better understood as a “proud and optimistic restatement of publicly disclosed information.” The filing notes that Musk’s tweets about Tesla’s production figures came after the close of market and that Musk has attempted to comply with the SEC settlement by tweeting less. The filing further adds that the SEC’s interpretation of the settlement agreement “raise serious First Amendment issues.”
The filing claims that Tesla reviewed Musk’s tweet about Tesla’s production figures which was “…consistent with the Policy, which provides that Tesla will periodically review tweets after they are posted and provide feedback if necessary.” Even though Musk and Tesla council didn’t appear to view the tweet as material, Musk provided a follow-up tweet clarifying his statement hours later “out of an abundance of caution.”
Tesla has faced tough times recently, closing retail stores in favor of an online-only business model — then walking this decision back and stating that some stores will stay open shortly after landlords informed the company they would have to finish out their leases, and raising nearly all vehicle prices by three percent.
Jalopnik reported on the states of Tesla’s retail stores writing:
After the news broke about the closings, employees were told to keep showing up to work, chasing leads, and working for their base pay rate without commission. Unsurprisingly, employees didn’t do a lot of work. Multiple employees said that for the time being test drives were cancelled nationwide.
Derek said that at his store they were just “hanging out and talking about cars” (he added this didn’t exactly bother him as he was hoping that’s what the atmosphere would be like when he took the job). Another, who works in a Texas store, said “we’re all actively looking for jobs at this point.”
A third said the store had worked out an informal system where one or two employees manned the front of the store, just in case anyone showed up, while the others hunkered in the back watching Netflix, playing the video game Fortnite, or trawling LinkedIn for leads.
He summarized the mood by saying, “We don’t know what we should be doing.”
Many employees have reportedly taken issue with Tesla’s claims that most of their sales were already made online:
It’s also not clear how Tesla is counting customers who come in to the store because they want to see the very expensive car they’re about to buy but don’t go for an official test drive. Maybe they just talk to a salesperson, learn how the charging system works, and sit in the car for a bit. Or their spouse or partner does the test drive. These are all common pre-buying scenarios, the salespeople said, yet appear to be counted as “online” sales even though it’s highly unlikely the sale would have happened without an in-person store visit.
One of the employees who expressed doubt over the statistics said he couldn’t believe Tesla published the numbers, because they’re so obviously untrue to him. He added that he would “love to see whatever numbers they have construed to make it even look like it’s like that, because that’s wild.”
Of course, nobody likes to be confronted with statistics that their jobs are disposable. But one employee, after pointing out all the possible methodological flaws in that 78 percent figure, made one more point: let’s say it’s accurate, he granted, and 78 percent of sales really do occur entirely online with little to no interaction with a sales staff member. Why would you voluntarily give up 22 percent of sales?
Read the full article in Jalopnik here.