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Elon Musk cites Eminem song in latest volley with the SEC

‘The [SEC] won’t let me be or let me be me so let me see...’

Elon Musk
Elon Musk
Photo by Asa Mathat

The latest court filing in Elon Musk’s battle to wrest back control of his Twitter account from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) includes a citation of the 2002 song Without Me by rapper Eminem. Yes, really (see the filing embedded below).

In the song, the rapper complains that “The FCC won’t let me be or let me be me so let me see/ They tried to shut me down.” That’s a reference to a 2002 penalty the Federal Communications Commission handed out to a Colorado radio station for playing Eminem’s 2000 song The Real Slim Shady (after clutching its collective pearls for a bit, the FCC ultimately decided not to fine the radio station).

In the Tuesday court filing, Musk’s lawyers just substituted “SEC” for “FCC” to make the comparison, noting that “the First Amendment requires that agencies proceed with caution when constitutional rights are at stake, not seek to pursue any and all novel theories that broaden their authority at the cost of individual freedom.”

The Tesla CEO wants a judge to rescind a 2018 consent decree with the SEC that requires his tweets to be reviewed by an attorney before posting to Twitter, alleging the agency is trying to “chill” his free speech as part of an “unrelenting investigation” of him and Tesla. Musk has said he felt pressured to settle with the SEC because the agency’s action “stood to jeopardize the company’s financing.” The SEC fined Musk and Tesla $20 million each, but Musk argued that the agency has not yet distributed the fine money to Tesla shareholders as the agreement required.

The SEC said it expected a plan to distribute the funds to receive court approval by the end of March.

The consent decree came about after Musk tweeted in August 2018 that he had funding to take Tesla private at $420 per share. Musk is also seeking to quash an SEC subpoena seeking details about whether he and Tesla are in compliance with the 2018 decree’s disclosure requirements. The agency is investigating another Musk tweet from November 2021, where the CEO polled his Twitter followers to ask if he should sell 10 percent of his Tesla stake.

The SEC declined to comment Tuesday.

Update March 29th 5:01PM ET: Adds that the SEC declined comment.