Tesla’s Subpoena From the U.S. Government Comes Shortly After Elon Musk Takes to Twitter

Electric car manufacturer Tesla is in the news again for something CEO Elon Musk has posted on one of his social media accounts. Musk tweeted a poll asking his audience for financial advice and is now under fire from the U.S. Government once again. Controversies stemming from his social media presence are regular occurrences in the life of Musk and his companies.

A look into Tesla’s controversial history

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, with Tesla's Subpoena, wearing a black suit with a black tie.
Elon Musk | Getty Images

Tesla has had no shortage of negative attention in the news throughout its existence. Recently, Tesla has been dealing with pressure from federal auto safety regulators regarding vehicle recalls and investigations involving the vehicle’s driver-assistance software.

In December 2021, Tesla recalled nearly 500,000 cars over safety concerns. According to Reuters, model years between 2014 and 2021 were recalled for several reasons. The Model 3 was recalled because of a faulty rearview camera cable harness that could be damaged from opening and closing the trunk lid. If damaged, the cable may prevent an image from appearing on the rearview camera display. The Model S was recalled due to latch problems that could leave the front trunk open. The latch problem could open the trunk during operation, preventing the driver from seeing the road. In addition, side view camera issues plagued some Tesla vehicles.

Tesla had also been put under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) after a series of crashes involving Tesla models and emergency vehicles had been attributed to Tesla’s driver-assistance software.

Musk and his Twitter account gets Tesla into trouble

Elon Musk is very active on social media, especially on Twitter. Recently, Musk took to his Twitter account and polled his audience, asking if they would support him selling 10% of his Tesla stock. Given the choice of “Yes” or “No.” After over three-and-a-half million votes, “Yes” came out ahead at nearly 58% of the vote. Musk added that he would “abide by the results of this poll, whichever way it goes.” This lit a fire under the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

According to CNN, ten days since tweeting out the poll, Tesla received a subpoena from the U.S. Government. The tweet triggered a stock selloff. It is just one of the many times Musk has been in hot water with the U.S. government over his public messaging. In response to a settlement Musk agreed to with the SEC over previous actions, this newly-issued subpoena looked to collect information “on our governance processes around compliance with the SEC settlement.”

Other times Musk’s tweets have made the news

Elon Musk is a controversial figure, and a lot of the controversy originates on his Twitter account. The Washington Post details that in 2020, Musk tweeted out, “Tesla stock price is too high imo.” Of course, this caused Tesla’s stock to plunge as investors looked to jump ship. Tesla’s value dropped by $14 billion because of that one tweet, and stockholders replied to Musk in anger as they lost money on their shares.

Tesla, which has been a publicly-traded company since 2010, was rumored to be going private after a 2018 tweet by Musk in which he claimed he had “funding secured” and was prepared to buy out any shareholders. This tweet caused Tesla’s stock to jump in price and triggered an investigation by the SEC. In response to his dealings with the SEC, Musk tweeted out, “SEC, three letter acronym, middle word is Elon’s.” He was referring to an obscene act.

These are just a couple of the times that Musk’s tweets may have put him in hot water. Of course, they are unlikely to be the last.

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