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Elon Musk, Tesla, SpaceX spend millions to influence politics and policy


Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, gestures while he visited the Gruenheide construction site near Berlin on August 13, 2021.

Patrick Pleul | Reuters

Elon Musk has told His tens to millions of followers on social media that he said he would prefer “to stay out of politics.”

However, the billionaire mogul behind SpaceX and Tesla has made himself a powerful political figure through his trash talking and large spending.

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Musk has taken personal shots at politicians, government regulators and others including digs at President Joe BidenA recent, sexually-tinged insinuation directed at a U.S. senator. Musk, SpaceX, and other companies are working behind the scenes. TeslaFor years, they have worked tirelessly to change the U.S. political scene, through lobbying, political donations, and other means. SpaceX and Tesla combined have spent more than $2 million lobbying in this year.

Musk also voiced opposition to Biden’s recent support of organized labor. He is particularly critical of a tax credit proposalThat would provide a 4500 dollar discount for consumers who purchase electric cars made by unionized employees, giving Big Three automakers an edge on Toyota and Tesla.

Musk also lamented against an income tax on billionaires and accused federal safety regulators for anti-Tesla bias. He also criticised the Federal Aviation Administration’s “unfair” approach to aviation.fundamentally broken regulatory structure,In his opinion.

His companies put their money into influence over the government. Recent disclosures reveal that SpaceX and Tesla lobbied for Biden during his third quarter. This period lasted from July to September.

SpaceX, Musk’s aerospace business, spent less than $1.8million this year on lobbying after spending nearly $2 million last fiscal year.

He runs Tesla Electric Cars and Renewable Energy Company. They have spent more federal lobbying dollars this year than in all of 2017.

Ford is a good example. spent $2.6 millionLobbying in this year. (The company sells millions of vehicles annually, while Tesla has not yet surpassed 1 million deliveries in a single year.) Jeff Bezos’ aerospace venture, Blue Origin, has spent around $1.4 millionLobbying in the past year.

The White House and Musk did not respond to requests for comment regarding this article.

Collaboration with both

Musk can make political statements even when he refrains from commenting on controversial issues, like Texas’ restrictive abortion laws.

“I believe that government should not impose its will on people in general and should strive to maximize their happiness collectively when it does.” Musk told CNBC in a September tweetResponding to a query about Texas law. “But, that said, I’d prefer to avoid politics.” Musk’s foundation and businesses are increasing their Texas operations significantly.

Musk doesn’t hesitate to back certain candidates.

In 2020, Musk verbally endorsed Andrew Yang as a Democratic candidate for president, based on Yang’s support of a universal basic income. He called California “the best.” coronavirus stay at home orders “fascist” and famously kept Tesla’s Fremont, California, factory running for weeks, openly defying the orders.

The tweet included a red-rose emoji and the phrase “Take the red pills” The “red pill” is a symbol from “The Matrix” co-opted by right wing extremists and others, while the red rose is a symbol used by the Democratic Socialists of America.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics data, Musk also contributed regularly to candidates from both political parties. (See chart below). Similar bipartisan strategies are used by other business leaders, such as Leon Cooperman (long-time investor) and Nelson Peltz (longtime investor).

Musk contributed to many campaigns. The most recent filings from the Federal Election Commission show that Musk is involved in a variety of them. showing he gave to the Republican National Committee.These individual contributions don’t include $210,000 in contributions by the SpaceX political-action committee to candidates for Congress from both the right and left sides during the first half 2021.

According to historical data, Musk has historically contributed more to Democrats and to their cause, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan organization. Musk donated to Sens in the last 2020 election cycle. Chris Coons D-Del. Jeanne Shaheen D-N.H. Jack Reed D-R.I. and Gary Peters D-Mich. Sens. also received his gift. Thom Tillis and John Cornyn both R-Texas.

Musk’s firms also depend upon lobbyists that have links to both the major parties.

Recent hires by Tesla and SpaceX of at least two lobbyists with prior experience on Capitol Hill were made.

Jonathan Carter (who was a legislative assistant to Senator Richard Blumenthal, D.Conn.), became a Tesla policy advisor in April according to his LinkedIn Page. His profile states that Carter was “lead staff to Senator Blumenthal” on Auto Safety, Census, Small Business, Sports, and Trade.

Blumenthal is part of the Commerce, Science and Transportation committee, which oversees highway safety, transportation, and non-military aerospace and space science, as well as other issues that affect Tesla’s business.

Blumenthal publicly criticised Tesla’s driver aid systems. These are called Autopilot and Full Self-Driving software. Blumenthal stated in a September Tweet that using this technology was “Russian Roulette for drivers.”

Carter was part of a Tesla lobbyist group that lobbied Biden in the third quarter. They lobbied the White House, Departments of Energy and Transportation and Environmental Protection Agency. The Office of Management and Budget and Department of Commerce. Last quarter, Carter’s group also met with Senate and House lawmakers.

The disclosure report shows that Tesla’s lobbying efforts focused on several issues including autonomous vehicle policies and solar permits, as well as infrastructure and the Highway Trust Fund.

Musk also suggested that Tesla and he were unfairly treated because they didn’t get invited to the White House electric vehicle summit.

Do you think this sounds biased or biased? And you know, just — it’s not the friendliest administration. “Seems like it’s controlled by the unions as far as i can see.” Musk said at the time.In August, the White House Summit was held.

The third quarter saw the addition of at least one former senator’s aide by his space business. This person has also engaged with Biden’s government, which includes the White House.

According to his LinkedIn profile, Joseph Petrzelka was an aide of Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) for more than four years and became the global government affairs manager at SpaceX in September. Feinstein belongs to the Senate Appropriations Committee’s transportation, housing, and urban development subcommittee. The Department of Transportation is under their jurisdiction.

Though Petrzelka is not listed on SpaceX’s third quarter report, the company spent $590,000 directly lobbying lawmakers, including Biden’s Executive Office of the President, Department of Defense, the National Aeronautics & Space Administration, the Department of Transportation, the National Security Council and the Federal Aviation Administration. NASA certified SpaceX in November 2020SpaceX will transport astronauts to and from space. SpaceX also supported members of Congress.

SpaceX for its part has won federal contracts in the amount of $10.5 million since 2003. Most of this was due to its collaboration with NASA. CNBC viewed data from GovWin which showed that these contracts totaled around $2Billion in 2021. NASA received $1.6B.

SpaceX is in a tension, environmental review processThat will decide whether or not they are allowed to start building and launching the Starship from Boca Chica (Texas) or need to undergo a more detailed assessment, which can cost years.

SpaceX did not charge separate fees to influencers from the outside for their lobbying efforts last quarter, which was more than $500,000

According to the most recent disclosure report, SpaceX spent $90,000. in the third quarter of 2013 to Invariant. Invariant was established by Heather Podesta who is a long-time lobbyist. Invariant lobbyists the Executive Office of President, Department of Transportation and Department of Interior. Podesta is one of Invariant’s lobbyists for SpaceX. He has spent over a decade raising campaign money for Democrats.

According to the lobbying report, the company tried to influence the Biden administration to SpaceX “support commercial launch provisions NASA programs,appropriations reconciliation and S.1260 United States Innovation and Competition Act 2021.”

SpaceX also hired Miller Strategies. This firm is headed by Jeff Miller. Miller was an ally of Kevin McCarthy, R.Calif., as well as former President Donald Trump. According to the most recent lobbying report, SpaceX spent $30,000 on the company to lobby Congress and the Senate about “issues that relate to space transport and costs.” Miller was among the SpaceX lobbyists who tried to influence legislators last quarter.

Regulative fights

Musk’s struggles with regulators are publicized and often messy.

Following the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration investigatedMusk accuses Tesla of being biased for safety problems in their vehicles this year.

Recent major NHTSA probe of TeslaIt will be determined whether Autopilot’s driver assistance software, which was developed by the company, is partially or fully to blame for crashes in which Tesla cars crashed into first responder vehicles parked on the side.

Following the probe, the White House stated that Steven Cliff was being appointed to lead the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. They also plan on hiring a former Navy officer. fighter pilotMissy Cummings (Duke University, engineering and computer science) is a Senior Advisor for Safety.

Musk targeted Cummings as a Tesla critic. Twitter“Objectively, her track records are extremely biased against Tesla,” she stated. Musk and Tesla enthusiasts began haranguing heron social media and attempted to delete her Wikipedia bio page.

Cummings worked as an industry representative for Veoneer (an autonomous vehicle technology company). Some Tesla supporters questioned whether this association was potentially a conflict of interests. Cummings resignedFrom the company’s board, effective Nov. 1, having accepted the NHTSA role.

Musk, however, has been at odds with the NTSBTesla has been around for many years. refused to adoptSafety tips from an independent federal safety authority.

Musk expressed dissatisfaction with the SEC. multiple occasions on Twitter Musk and the Commission will be celebrating their 20th anniversary in 2018. reached a settlementMusk spoke out about a plan to eventually take Tesla private.

Twitter flame wars

Musk has taken multiple digs at Biden. SpaceX put a non-professional crew on orbit and it was criticized by Biden. SeptemberMusk lamented that Trump did not call to personally congratulate astronauts on the historic mission.

Musk also took aim at Biden, echoing Trump’s joke. He’s still sleeping, Musk said At the time it was almost identical to the “Sleepy Joe” insults of the previous president.

Musk is not a fan of politics. This is especially true when it comes down to fighting for his billions.

Forbes reports that Musk is the richest person in the world with a net worth of more than $300 billion. According to Forbes, Musk is just one of 700 individuals who could be affected by the new tax proposal that Democrats proposed in October by Ron Wyden, D.Ore.

To finance President Joe Biden’s $1.75 trillion security net, the proposal calls for a tax to be imposed on billionaires’ annual investment gains. According to the so-called billionaire income tax, it would end a loophole that allowed super rich people to indefinitely defer capital gains taxes. It is known as “buy borrow die.”

Musk protested strongly on Twitter when Wyden published the income tax proposal of the billionaire.

The CEO recently asked 62.5 million of his followers to vote on a Twitter poll asking whether they wanted to sell 10% or all of their Tesla shares. face a big tax bill

Wyden responded with a tweet, “Whether the wealthiest man in the world pays any taxes or not should not depend on the results from a twitter poll.”

Musk retorted at Wyden by sending a vulgar, disparaging tweet asking “Why do your pp?” [profile picture] look like u just came?”

Wyden’s spokeswoman didn’t respond to our request for comment.