Of the all fixes the SEC wants Tesla Inc. to make in the wake of Elon Musk’s now-infamous tweet, one stands out for its novelty: “An experienced securities lawyer” to review all social media communications by the company’s senior officers.
In resolving its fraud claims against Tesla and Musk, the Securities and Exchange Commission specified in the fine print of its settlement proposal that the lawyer hired or designated to vet tweets must have qualifications that “are not unacceptable to the staff.”
She or he would join a legal department headed by an attorney who represented Musk through two divorces, Todd Maron. It’s not clear from the agency’s language whether the job could be handled by someone already in-house, like Phil Rothenberg, Tesla’s vice president, legal, who was previously an attorney-adviser for the SEC and has extensive securities law experience. Whoever it is might have to sign off before Must posts tweets like the zinger he wrote Oct. 4 mocking the SEC as the “Shortseller Enrichment Commission.”
“Yes, it is an unusual provision,” said Stanford University Professor Joseph Grundfest, one of the nation’s leading experts on securities litigation. “But any provision that causes Musk to focus on building the best possible company for his shareholders without the distraction of ‘ pedo’ or ‘financing secured’ tweets is not the worst idea in the world.“
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