Elon Musk spars with Bernie Sanders over stock sale

by Jonathan Adams
Bernie Sanders

This week, Musk sold nearly $7bn of shares in Tesla, more than $5bn after asking Twitter followers to vote on whether he should do so

Elon Musk, the Tesla owner and world’s richest person, waded into yet another Twitter controversy on Sunday responding to a tweet about tax from Senator Bernie Sanders by writing: I keep forgetting that you’re still alive.

Musk is also the owner of SpaceX and has a personal worth estimated at around $271bn, making him by some counts the richest person ever.

Sanders, 80, wrote: We must demand that the extremely wealthy pay their fair share. Period.

Musk also tweeted: Want me to sell more stock, Bernie? Just say the word.

Sanders did not immediately respond. Melissa Byrne, a progressive activist and former Sanders staffer, tweeted: Folks, quit buying Tesla. Don’t reward abusive men.

This week, Musk sold nearly $7bn of shares in Tesla, more than $5bn after asking Twitter followers to vote on whether he should do so.

Jason Benowitz, senior portfolio manager at Roosevelt Investment Group in New York, told Reuters: We expect the share sales will continue, as Musk holds millions of options worth billions of dollars that would otherwise expire worthless, and he has also prearranged share sales.

Tesla’s share price dropped after Musk’s Twitter followers said he should sell stock. But the shares remain hugely valuable.

Musk staged the Twitter poll to make a point about a “billionaires tax” proposed by Democrats in Congress, saying: Note, I do not take a cash salary or bonus from anywhere. I only have stock, thus the only way for me to pay taxes personally is to sell stock.

Proponents of the billionaires tax say they want to target unrealised capital gains, meaning rises in the value of stocks owned by ultra-rich Americans who currently pay very little in tax.

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