Elon Musk has responded to a media report alleging that SpaceX paid a flight attendant $250,000 to settle claims of sexual harassment against him, saying the “wild accusations are utterly untrue”.
On Thursday, Business Insider published an article claiming that Musk’s aerospace company made the payment to the unidentified flight attendant in 2018 as part of a severance agreement, after she accused the chief executive of sexual misconduct while working on a SpaceX corporate jet.
In exchange, the flight attendant was required to not sue over the claims or disclose any information about Musk and his businesses, including both SpaceX and Tesla, Business Insider said. The news outlet cited documents, email correspondence, interviews and a declaration signed by the friend of the attendant in support of the claims.
Musk later hit back at the allegations, writing on Twitter on Friday morning: “For the record, those wild accusations are utterly untrue.”
He added: “It was clear that their only goal was a hit price to interfere with the Twitter acquisition.”
In a separate tweet that did not refer directly to the report, the billionaire wrote: “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.”
The allegations come as Musk is in the process of buying social media platform Twitter for $44bn, promising to loosen its content moderation rules in the name of free speech. Last week, he said at a Financial Times conference that he would reverse former president Donald Trump’s ban from Twitter, accusing the company of having a “strong left bias”.
A day before the claims emerged, Musk tweeted that the Democratic party had become the party of “division [and] hate” so he would now vote Republican. “Now, watch their dirty tricks campaign against me unfold . . .” he added.
Last week Musk announced that the Twitter deal was “temporarily on hold” while he sought to clarify how many fake accounts were on the platform. Twitter has said it intends to close the transaction at the current price, amid speculation that Musk is using the fake account complaint as a tactic to renegotiate the deal at a lower price or back out altogether.
According to the Business Insider report, Musk was accused by the flight attendant of exposing himself to her in 2016 and offering to buy her a horse in exchange for an erotic massage.
A lawyer for Musk did not immediately respond to a request for comment.