Do You Want Some Cheese with That Whine?

Tesla Inc. accused U.S. regulators of harassing Chief Executive Elon Musk over his compliance with a 2018 regulatory settlement that sought to restrict his use of social media.

In a letter filed Thursday with a federal judge who oversaw that settlement, attorneys for the company charged that the Securities and Exchange Commission is conducting unfounded investigations of Mr. Musk and Tesla. Earlier this month, the electric-car maker disclosed that regulators sent a subpoena last year that sought information showing how the company and its CEO complied with the terms of the deal.

The SEC hasn’t distributed $40 million in fine money to shareholders allegedly hurt by Mr. Musk’s 2018 tweets that he planned to take Tesla private, according to the letter. The SEC alleged that Mr. Musk’s statements weren’t truthful. The regulator’s 2018 lawsuit eventually led to an unusual agreement that Tesla lawyers would preclear certain of the CEO’s tweets and other public statements.

“The SEC seems to be targeting Mr. Musk and Tesla for unrelenting investigation largely because Mr. Musk remains an outspoken critic of the government,” attorney Alex Spiro wrote in the letter to Judge Nathan.

Mr. Musk frequently ridicules government officials despite his need to work with regulators who play a role overseeing both Tesla and SpaceX, the rocket company he founded. He has taken aim at the SEC, highway safety regulators and the Federal Aviation Administration, whose space division he has called “fundamentally broken.” Mr. Musk has also criticized public policies such as financial incentives to spur electric-vehicle adoption.

Mr. Musk landed in trouble in 2018 over a tweet that said he had “funding secured” to take Tesla private at $420 a share. The SEC alleged that Mr. Musk had never discussed such a going-private deal and that his statement, which caused Tesla’s stock to skyrocket, constituted fraud.

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