Elon Musk is trying to get out of an SEC deal to have lawyers approve his tweets

He's appealing a ruling that upheld the 2018 agreement.

Dado Ruvic / reuters

Elon Musk has filed an appeal against a judge's decision not to let him out of an agreement with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which requires him to have lawyers review some of his tweets. A district court judge ruled that the Tesla and SpaceX CEO's consent decree with the SEC should stand. Now, Musk is hoping the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan will overturn that decision, as Reuters reports.

Musk's pact with the SEC stems from an infamous 2018 incident in which he tweeted that he had "funding secured" to make Tesla a private company, though that allegedly wasn't the case. The SEC laid securities fraud charges against Musk, who has not deleted the tweet in question nearly four years later.

He quickly settled the case by agreeing to step down as Tesla chairman (but remain as CEO), while he and the company each paid civil fines of $20 million. On top of that, Musk agreed to let a lawyer vet tweets that might include material information about Tesla. He later claimed he was "forced" into the settlement, but attempts to get out of the tweet-screening arrangement have proven unsuccessful.

"Musk cannot now seek to retract the agreement he knowingly and willingly entered by simply bemoaning that he felt like he had to agree to it at the time but now — once the specter of the litigation is a distant memory and his company has become, in his estimation, all but invincible — wishes that he had not," US District Judge Lewis Liman wrote in April.

Musk is in the process of buying Twitter for $44 billion, despite threatening to back out. The deal is expected to close this year, pending approval by regulators and Twitter shareholders. As things stand, Musk is on the precipice of buying a social media platform on which he cannot speak entirely freely. That's despite Musk telling the SEC itself that his purchase of Twitter would be a boon for free speech.

Meanwhile, Musk is being sued by Tesla investors over the same incident. The shareholders have accused Musk of making false and misleading statements that caused stock prices to rise, leading to billions of dollars in damages. Musk maintains he did have funding in place, though a judge ruled in May that "there was nothing concrete" about his claims. Musk has also been sued by an investor for allegedly not sticking to the terms of the SEC deal.