Elon Musk criticized federal regulators and said the $20 million fine he paid over his 'funding secured' tweet was 'worth it' (TSLA)

  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk took veiled shots at the Securities and Exchange Commission and federal prosecutors in a tweetstorm on Friday.
  • The US Justice Department's investigation into whether he and Tesla misled investors about production of its Model 3 vehicle is "total bs," he said.
  • The $20 million fine he had to pay over his "funding secured" tweet was "worth it," he added.
  • The tweets come after Tesla agreed to set guidelines for and oversee his use of Twitter.

Elon Musk may have settled a suit filed against him by the Securities and Exchange Commission, but he's still tilting at federal regulators.

In a long series of tweets on Friday, Tesla's CEO called an investigation into the company by the US Justice Department "total bs" and said that the tweet he posted that led to the SEC charges against him was "worth" the $20 million fine had had to pay to settle them.

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Elon Musk through the years
Elon Musk, founder, CEO and lead designer at SpaceX and co-founder of Tesla, speaks at the International Space Station Research and Development Conference in Washington, U.S., July 19, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Elon Musk, founder, CEO and lead designer at SpaceX and co-founder of Tesla, speaks at the International Space Station Research and Development Conference in Washington, U.S., July 19, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk takes the stage to speak at the National Governors Association Summer Meeting in Providence, Rhode Island, U.S., July 15, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
FILE PHOTO: Tesla Chief Executive, Elon Musk enters the lobby of Trump Tower in Manhattan, New York, U.S., January 6, 2017. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo
Elon Musk, Chairman of SolarCity and CEO of Tesla Motors, speaks at SolarCity's Inside Energy Summit in Manhattan, New York October 2, 2015. SolarCity on Friday said it had built a solar panel that is the most efficient in the industry at transforming sunlight into electricity. REUTERS/Rashid Umar Abbasi
Tesla Motors Inc CEO Elon Musk unveils a new all-wheel-drive version of the Model S car in Hawthorne, California October 9, 2014. Tesla Motors Inc on Thursday took its first step toward automated driving, unveiling features that will allow its electric sedan to park itself and sense dangerous situations. The company also said it will roll out an all-wheel drive option of the Model S sedan that can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in 3.2 seconds yet doesn't compromise the vehicle's efficiency. Musk said "D" stands for "dual motor," meaning Tesla's all-wheel drive vehicle will have a motor at either end of the chassis to increase control. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: TRANSPORT SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS HEADSHOT)
Tesla Motors Inc CEO Elon Musk unveils a new all-wheel-drive version of the Model S car in Hawthorne, California October 9, 2014. Tesla Motors Inc on Thursday took its first step toward automated driving, unveiling features that will allow its electric sedan to park itself and sense dangerous situations. The company also said it will roll out an all-wheel drive option of the Model S sedan that can go from zero to 60 miles per hour in 3.2 seconds yet doesn't compromise the vehicle's efficiency. Musk said "D" stands for "dual motor," meaning Tesla's all-wheel drive vehicle will have a motor at either end of the chassis to increase control. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson (UNITED STATES - Tags: TRANSPORT SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS HEADSHOT)
Tesla Motors Inc Chief Executive Elon Musk speaks during a news conference in Tokyo September 8, 2014. Musk said on Monday that he would not be surprised if there was a significant deal with Toyota Motor Corp in the next two to three years, though there were no definitive plans. REUTERS/Toru Hanai (JAPAN - Tags: BUSINESS TRANSPORT)
Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors, waves during a news conference to mark the company's delivery of the first batch of electric cars to Chinese customers in Beijing April 22, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer (CHINA - Tags: TRANSPORT BUSINESS) CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA
CEO & CTO of SpaceX and CEO & Chief Product Architect of Tesla Motors Elon Musk receives The President's Award for Exploration and Technology at the 110th Explorers Club Annual Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in New York March 15, 2014. The club, which promotes the scientific exploration of land, sea, air and space featured catering for the event by chef and exotic creator Gene Rurka. Chef Rurka prepared a variety of dishes featuring an array of insects, wildlife, animal body parts and invasive species. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly (UNITED STATES - Tags: SOCIETY BUSINESS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY FOOD)
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk talks at the Automotive World News Congress at the Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan, January 13, 2015. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook (UNITED STATES - Tags: TRANSPORT BUSINESS)
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk speaks after unveiling the Dragon V2 spacecraft in Hawthorne, California May 29, 2014. Space Exploration Technologies, or SpaceX, on Thursday unveiled an upgraded passenger version of the Dragon cargo ship NASA buys for resupply runs to the International Space Station. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS TRANSPORT SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY SOCIETY)
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk poses at the premiere of the documentary "Revenge of the Electric Car" in Los Angeles October 21, 2011. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENTERTAINMENT TRANSPORT BUSINESS PORTRAIT)
Elon Musk, Chief Executive of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, attends the Reuters Global Technology Summit in San Francisco June 18, 2013. REUTERS/Stephen Lam (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY TRANSPORT)
Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk leaves a press event at his company's factory in Fremont, California, June 22, 2012. Tesla began delivering its Model S electric sedan to customers on June 22. REUTERS/Noah Berger (UNITED STATES - Tags: TRANSPORT SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS)
SpaceX founder Elon Musk pauses at a press conference following the first launch of a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
SpaceX founder Elon Musk listens at a press conference following the first launch of a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S., February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Joe Skipper
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk waves as he leaves the stage after speaking at the National Governors Association Summer Meeting in Providence, Rhode Island, U.S., July 15, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
89th Academy Awards - Oscars Vanity Fair Party - Beverly Hills, California, U.S. - 26/02/17 ? Elon Musk. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk speaks during the National Governors Association Summer Meeting in Providence, Rhode Island, U.S., July 15, 2017. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Elon Musk, founder, CEO and lead designer at SpaceX and co-founder of Tesla, arrives at the SpaceX Hyperloop Pod Competition II in Hawthorne, California, U.S., August 27, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Blake
Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk attends a forum on startups in Hong Kong, China January 26, 2016. REUTERS/Bobby Yip
Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks about new Autopilot features during a Tesla event in Palo Alto, California October 14, 2015. REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach
Tesla founder Elon Musk arrives for the the annual Allen and Co. media conference Sun Valley, Idaho July 7, 2015. REUTERS/Mike Blake
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 11: Elon Musk speaks onstage at Elon Musk Answers Your Questions! during SXSW at ACL Live on March 11, 2018 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Chris Saucedo/Getty Images for SXSW)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 11: Elon Musk speaks onstage at Elon Musk Answers Your Questions! during SXSW at ACL Live on March 11, 2018 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Diego Donamaria/Getty Images for SXSW)
AUSTIN, TEXAS - MARCH 10: Elon Musk speaks on stage during the Westworld Featured Session during SXSW at Austin Convention Center on March 10, 2018 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by FilmMagic/FilmMagic for HBO)
AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 10: Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX speaks onstage during SXSW at Austin Convention Center on March 10, 2018 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Amy E. Price/Getty Images for SXSW)
BERLIN, GERMANY - NOVEMBER 08: Elon Musk attends the 'Goldenes Lenkrad' Award at Axel Springer Haus on November 8, 2016 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Tristar Media/WireImage)
Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk speaks at a press conference during the 67th International Astronautical Congress in Guadalajara, Mexico on September 27, 2016. / AFP / HECTOR GUERRERO (Photo credit should read HECTOR GUERRERO/AFP/Getty Images)
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He also poked fun at the SEC's mandate as part of his settlement to get him to be more responsible with his tweets.

In response to a tweet from another user suggesting that he had turned over a new leaf, that he was acting the part of running a company that had finally matured, Musk tweeted: "Clearly, you're not reading my twitter."

Musk's tweets have gotten him in trouble before

Musk's tweets in August related to potentially taking Tesla private got him and the company in trouble with the SEC.

In his posts, he stated that he had "funding secured" to take the company private. The SEC later charged that statement and other related ones were false, and that Musk knew they were at the time.

After initially rejecting a settlement offer — and seeing the SEC file civil charges against him — Musk settled the suit. As part of the settlement, Tesla had to pay a $20 million fine to the SEC and agreed to put in place new guidelines to oversee Musk's social media use.

If his tweetstorm was any indication, Musk wasn't the slightest bit chagrined by the settlement, which also will require him to step down as Tesla's CEO.

As part of a back-and-forth on the site with other users about the merits of Twitter and how relatively few followers "like" good tweets, one user asked him what the ratio of likes was for his "funding secured tweet." Musk's two-word response: "Worth it."

Elon Musk Worth it

Musk said the Justice Department investigation is 'total bs'

But Musk didn't stop there. That evening, The Wall Street Journal published a report saying that the Justice Department is ramping up its investigation into Tesla over whether Musk and the company misled investors over production issues related to its new Model 3 vehicle.

 

Musk had said as early as February of last year — months before Tesla started making the Model 3 — that the company planned to be manufacturing 5,000 of the vehicles a week by the fourth quarter of 2017, comments he echoed that July. In reality, the company didn't hit that 5,000 vehicle a week target for the first time until the end of June this year.

 

Commenting on the Journal's article Friday night, Fox Business Network correspondent Charles Gasparino tweeted that proving that Musk and Tesla misled investors would be "really difficult."

"Exactly," Musk responded to Gasparino. "This is total bs."

Musk even seemed to invite a dig through documents via a Freedom of Information Act request in an effort to prove his case.

"The FOIA on this will be solid gold," he tweeted. "Can't wait."

But that wasn't all. Earlier, another Twitter user charged that the substance and timing of the Journal's article was "purely meant to distort [Tesla's] stock and harm investors" and questioned why the SEC wasn't looking into it.

"Good question," Musk responded.

At the end of his tweetstorm, Musk announced he would be "signing off Twitter for a few days."

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