Elon Musk scrambles to keep Grimes, Azealia Banks out of investor lawsuit

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Elon Musk’s fateful “420” pot joke on Twitter is dogging him in court again.

Tesla’s billionaire boss is scrambling to keep a pair of pop singers — his ex-girlfriend Grimes, as well as the rapper Azealia Banks — out of the legal mess created by his Aug. 7 tweet that claimed he had secured funding to take the electric-car maker private for $420 a share.

Lawyers for Musk filed a motion this week arguing against subpoenas of Grimes and Banks that have been proposed by angry Tesla shareholders; the lawyers claim that they are merely an effort “to sensationalize these proceedings.”

Miffed Tesla investors, who are suing both Musk and the company, counter that subpoenas of Grimes and Banks are necessary because of the close proximity the singers had to Musk in the days and weeks surrounding the incendiary tweet.

The pair, who reportedly were hanging out at Musk’s California mansion as the surreal August events unfolded, may “have information bearing on the veracity of Musk’s tweet,” according to court papers filed by the plaintiffs.

The Securities and Exchange Commission, which ended up fining Musk and Tesla $20 million each over the Aug. 7 tweet, as well as removing Musk as chairman and forcing the addition of two independent directors to the board, found in a probe that Musk’s relationship with Grimes played a role in setting the price he said he would ask for Tesla.

“Musk stated that he rounded the price up to $420 because he had recently learned about the number’s significance in marijuana culture,” the SEC suit read. The suit added that Musk “thought his girlfriend ‘would find it funny.’ ”

Banks, in a since-deleted Instagram post during the tumult, claimed that Musk was on psychedelic drugs at the time of his tweet.

The suit also seeks to subpoena the New York Times, Business Insider and Gizmodo, which all spoke with Musk or Banks about the events surrounding Musk’s tweet.

Musk’s lawyer Dean Kirsty countered in a Thursday motion that it is “readily apparent” that the proposed subpoena is not a “legitimate attempt to preserve evidence.” He pointed out that the plaintiffs have not yet contacted Grimes or Banks “to find out if they even have any relevant information.”

Kristy went on to ask the judge to deny the request from the investors, calling it “rank speculation” to assume that Grimes would know anything about Musk’s Tesla plans.

“None of the third parties ever worked for Tesla or Musk, or is alleged to have had any involvement in his tweets or in his evaluation of a potential go-private transaction,” Kirsty argued.

“Indeed, every defendant in every securities class action has a spouse and friends, but that does not justify discovery of them,” he added.

Tesla shares ended the day up 5.8 percent to $317.69.

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