Shotwell Defends Elon Musk Against Sexual Harassment Claims

Gwynne Shotwell

CNBC reports that SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell defended CEO Elon Musk against charges of sexual harassment in an email to employees on Friday.

“Personally, I believe the allegations to be false; not because I work for Elon, but because I have worked closely with him for 20 years and never seen nor heard anything resembling these allegations,” Shotwell wrote in a companywide email sent on Friday and seen by CNBC.

Musk has denied the allegations, which claim he propositioned a flight attendant on one of SpaceX’s private jets in 2016, calling them “wild accusations.”

In a response to Business Insider, which reported the allegations and that the flight attendant was paid $250,000 severance after confronting the company, Musk said there is “a lot more to this story,” describing it as a “politically motivated hit piece.” Neither Musk nor SpaceX’s vice president of the legal department, Christopher Cardaci, denied the payment in statements to Business Insider.

Shotwell emphasized in her email that she “will never comment on any legal matters involving employment issues” before noting Musk publicly denied the allegations as “utterly untrue” in a tweet.

The one matter that hasn’t been denied involves the $250,000 severance payment.

CNN reports that Business Insider Nicholas Carlson Editor-in-Chief is standing by the website’s story.

The allegations were made by an unnamed source — a friend of the flight attendant — in the Business Insider story, but Carlson said the accusation met the outlet’s standards for publishing on “Reliable Sources” Sunday.

“Anytime you have a very powerful man and there are credible accusations that he’s done something wrong the way that he was accused of doing in this story,” Carlson said. “That’s absolutely and sort of obviously newsworthy.”

Business Insider reported that in 2018, SpaceX paid a $250,000 settlement after the flight attendant alleged sexual misconduct against Musk. Musk and the company didn’t deny to Insider that the settlement was paid, but denied the underlying allegation, Carlson said.

Musk tweeted that the charges are politically motivated because he is trying to buy Twitter and has declared he will vote for Republicans.

But Carlson said Insider reporters reached out to Musk’s team for comment on the allegations before those politically charged tweets were posted.

“I reached out to him personally a few times,” Carlson added. “[I] said come talk to us, we want to hear from you.” Musk declined Insider’s offer to grant him more time to respond,Carlson said.