The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

We All Know Elon Musk Is Buying Twitter To Help Him Get Away With Stock Fraud, Right?


In response to news that billionaire Elon Musk planned to purchase Twitter and take it private, Revolving Door Project research director Max Moran issued the following statement:

"Elon Musk is not just purchasing Twitter because, by all appearances, he is a very sad man who is desperate for other very sad men to think he is cool. This is part of a pattern of intimidation toward anyone who would dare to hold Musk accountable for repeatedly using Twitter to commit stock fraud."

"In 2018, both Musk and his car company Tesla had to pay a $20 million fine related to Musk's false claims on Twitter about a buyout manipulating Tesla's stock price. Four years later, in January 2022, Tesla demanded that the law firm Cooley fire an attorney on its staff who once worked on the SEC investigation which led to the fine."

"This sent a clear message to any other SEC lawyers who might think of trying to hold Musk accountable to the law: cause problems for Musk, and he will threaten your ability to revolve out of the agency for a big payday."

"So many SEC attorneys only join the agency for a portion of their legal career before making millions as corporate lawyers, cashing in on their connections and insider understanding of how the agency works. These short-term SEC attorneys fear that actual hard-nosed enforcement will make them unemployable once they try to switch sides. In January, Musk all but confirmed it -- lawyers who even try to hold him accountable under the law will lose business for any law firms which hire them later, and could even find themselves in open conflict with Musk and his firms."

"By buying Twitter and taking it private, Musk is seemingly trying to ensure he'll have the full force of the company behind him the next time the SEC questions him about using the platform to commit fraud. And we know that any SEC attorneys who ask questions about any of this should expect reprisal years later."

"The SEC, and the entire federal government, should see this as a cautionary tale about what happens when one permits a revolving door in and out of a key regulatory agency. Very rich, very sad men do not abide anyone holding them accountable to the law. To have the courage to stand up to them, federal enforcers need to be career civil servants devoted to their agency's mission, not careerists looking to pad their pockets in a few years."

The Revolving Door Project (RDP) scrutinizes executive branch appointees to ensure they use their office to serve the broad public interest, rather than to entrench corporate power or seek personal advancement.