Elon Musk hit back at his critics and said a series of salacious sexual harassment allegations revealed Thursday were a ‘despicable’ attack motivated by politics amid his $44 billion takeover of Twitter.
The bombshell report, published by Insider, alleged that Musk’s SpaceX paid $250,000 in severance to one of the company’s corporate flight attendants after she filed a formal complaint against the tech mogul for exposing himself to her and propositioning her for sex.
Musk tweeted Thursday night: ‘The attacks against me should be viewed through a political lens – this is their standard (despicable) playbook – but nothing will deter me from fighting for a good future and your right to free speech.’
He then finally tweeted a denial in response to Cucumber Capital CEO Tara Bull: ‘And, for the record, those wild accusations are utterly untrue.’
The man currently trying to buy Twitter has recently made a public display of switching political allegiances – saying he will vote Republican this year after having voted for Democrats in the past.
The flight attendant, who has not been named, claimed the billionaire rubbed her leg and offered her gifts in exchange for an erotic massage.
She also said the 50-year-old made a move on her during a massage on a flight to London in 2016, according to Insider.
But when she reported the incident to the company, SpaceX reportedly paid her $250,000 as part of a severance agreement.
Musk, the wealthiest man on earth, hit back in a statement to the publication, saying there is ‘a lot more to this story’ – which he called a ‘politically motivated hit piece’.
Meanwhile SpaceX VP of Legal Christopher Cardaci said: ‘I’m not going to comment on any settlement agreements.’
Elon Musk’s SpaceX allegedly paid $250,000 to one of the company’s corporate flight attendants, who accused the tech mogul of exposing himself to her and propositioning her for sex, according to a new report
Musk, 50, was also accused of rubbing her leg and offering gifts in exchange for an erotic massage
The 2016 incident is alleged in papers signed by a friend of the flight attendant, who handled a flight to London with Musk on board
A friend of the woman claimed the flight attendant told her Musk requested she come to his room to perform ‘a full body massage’ in late 2016.
SpaceX employs in-house massages as a benefit for executives – and according to the declaration the flight attendant was encouraged to take massage classes by her supervisors.
Upon arrival, she allegedly found Musk ‘completely naked except for a sheet covering the lower half of his body.’
The declaration from the friend says that Musk ‘exposed his genitals,’ and touched the flight attendant.
He then, according to the declaration, ‘offered to buy her a horse’ if she would ‘do more,’ which she said she took to mean performing sex acts.
Insider noted that the flight attendant rode horses as a hobby.
The attendant declined Musk’s offer but continued the massage, the friend said. But then ‘he whipped out his penis,’ the friend said.
‘It was erect,’ they added.
‘And he started propositioning her, like he touched her thigh and told her he would buy her a horse. And he basically tried to bribe her to perform some sort of sexual favor.’
The friend said that the flight attendant was ‘really upset’ and visibly shaken after the flight when they got together shortly after.
She added that, while the flight attendant looked up to Musk before the incident, afterwards she found it more difficult to get work, in addition to being ‘full of anxiety.’
‘She figured things could just go back to normal and she would pretend like nothing happened,’ the friend said. ‘However, she started to feel as if she was receiving some sort of retaliation where her shifts were cut back, and she was starting to feel really stressed.’
The friend says that the flight attendant told her Musk requested she come to his room ‘for a full body massage’ in late 2016
SpaceX employs in-house massages as a benefit for executives and according to the declaration, the flight attendant was encouraged to take massage classes by her supervisors
The declaration argues that she felt she was ‘being pushed out and punished for refusing to prostitute herself.’
The attendant hired an employment lawyer to file the complaint in 2018, which led to her friend being contacted to corroborate the claims.
Musk attended a session with a mediator and the attendant, hoping to resolve the situation quickly.
In November 2018, before making it to court, Musk, SpaceX and the attendant agreed to a severance payment of $250,000. The flight attendant was told to promise not sue.
The settlement included non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreements preventing the flight attendant for ever revealing any information regarding the settlement or anything about Musk and his business.
Those sorts of agreements were then banned in the state of California – just months after Musk’s settlement.
The friend said that the flight attendant was ‘really upset’ and visibly shaken after the flight when they got together shortly after
Musk attended a session with a mediator and the attendant, hoping to resolve this quickly
The flight attendant’s friend claims she is under no such agreements and felt an ‘obligation’ to tell the story as a survivor of sexual assault herself.
‘I absolutely felt a responsibility to come forward with it, especially now,’ she said. ‘He is the richest man in the world. Someone with that level of power causing that kind of harm and then throwing some money at the situation, that’s not accountability.
‘There are predators all over the world. But when someone is particularly wealthy and powerful, they literally have systems that are like a machine working for them, to set them up to be able to do whatever they want.’
‘When you choose to remain silent, yeah, you do become a part of that system,’ she added.
‘You do become a part of that machine that allows someone like Elon Musk to continue to do the horrible things that he’s done.’
It’s not clear if the friend has spoken to the flight attendant ahead of the story being revealed.
‘If there were a way for [her] to come forward without putting herself at risk, without jeopardizing her life in any way, I believe she would,’ the friend said. ‘I hope she feels like I did the right thing. I hope she feels I said the things that she didn’t feel safe enough to say.’
This is the first such allegation of sexual misconduct against the tech mogul – which Musk noted when asked for comment on the situation.
He said: ‘If I were inclined to engage in sexual harassment, this is unlikely to be the first time in my entire 30-year career that it comes to light.’
He added that there is ‘a lot more to this story’ which he called a ‘politically motivated hit piece.’
Musk, the wealthiest man on earth, said in response: ‘If I were inclined to engage in sexual harassment, this is unlikely to be the first time in my entire 30-year career that it comes to light’
As Musk claimed when asked for comment, this is the first such allegation of sexual misconduct against him
Both SpaceX and Tesla have faced allegations of sexual harassment as well as lawsuits.
The friend said she hopes anyone else who may have been mistreated by Musk comes forward.
These accusations come during a period where Musk has perhaps never dominated the news cycle more.
He’s in the middle of a tumultuous buyout of the social media giant Twitter – which Musk repeatedly said was ‘on hold’ over the past week over claims that the platform was downplaying its number of bots.
Executives at the social media giant, however, insisted on Thursday that the deal was still on.
Asked initially why he wanted to buy Twitter, the South African billionaire said it was to promote free speech, and that he intended to ‘clean up’ Twitter, and get rid of spam and bots. Then, on Friday, he said that the $44 billion deal was ‘temporarily on hold’ until Twitter could prove that less than 5 percent of its users were fake or spam accounts.
‘This is a big deal,’ he said on Monday at a podcast summit.
‘It seems like if you said, ‘Okay, I agree to buy your house.’ You say the house has less than 5 percent termites. That’s an acceptable number. But if it turns out it is 90 percent termites, that’s not okay. It’s not the same house.’
Musk remains convinced that Twitter’s leadership is not being honest with him about the number of bots, and on Thursday tweeted a meme of an astronaut, labelled ‘Elon’, staring into the abyss and saying: ‘Wait it’s all bots?’
Another astronaut, labelled ‘Twitter Board’, holds a gun to his head and replies: ‘Always has been.’
Elon Musk, 50, has repeatedly questioned whether high numbers of Twitter users are fake accounts. On Thursday he repeated his claim that executives were lying about the data
Musk on Thursday tweeted a meme showing himself looking at the Twitter data and realizing many accounts were bots – while the Twitter board said they always knew that
Musk on Thursday afternoon insisted he was not spending an excessive amount of time on the Twitter deal
When CEO Parag Agrawal tweeted a lengthy explanation of the 5% figure Musk was given – which was stated in company documents before Musk made his offer – the billionaire responded with a poop emoji.
Musk also garnered headlines this week after claiming that he will switch political allegiances and vote for the Republican party in the next election, after casting his ballot ‘overwhelmingly’ for the Democratic party in the past.
The world’s richest man, who was born in South African and holds US citizenship, is registered as an independent voter and describes himself as a moderate.
However, in recent years – and particularly while publicly discussing his Twitter takeover – the Tesla and SpaceX CEO has shown a leaning more towards the political right.
Speaking via video link at a tech summit in Miami, Florida on Monday, hosted by the All-In podcast, Musk confirmed he would be changing his vote.
‘The reality is that Twitter at this point, you know, has a very far left bias,’ Musk told attendees. ‘I would classify myself as a moderate, neither Republican nor Democrat.
‘I have voted overwhelmingly for Democrats, historically. Like I’m not sure, I might never have voted for a Republican, just to be clear,’ Musk continued, adding: ‘Now this election I will.’
Speaking via video link at a tech summit in Miami on Monday (pictured), hosted by the All-In podcast, Musk confirmed he would be changing his vote from Democrat to Republican