by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Tesla Inc. has spent more than $100,000 lobbying specifically on issues related to electronic vehicles and $450,000 lobbying the federal government overall over the last year and a half, according to lobbying disclosure records.
Despite the expenditures, Tesla CEO Elon Musk insists the company does not need such breaks. Musk publicly rebuked President Trump last week when announcing his decision to quit a White House advisory board over Trump’s decision to leave the Paris climate accord.
Musk and Tesla shifted their lobbying strategy in recent months in an apparent attempt to try to reach Republicans in Congress and the Trump administration more effectively on “green” energy issues benefitting his companies.
SolarCity, a solar energy company that Musk merged into Tesla Inc. last fall, earlier this year parted ways with two major Democratic lobbying firms—Podesta Group and Roberti Global—and hired at least one Republican lobbying firm instead.
Over the past year and a half, Tesla Motors and Tesla Inc., paid four outside lobbying firms $260,000 to lobby Washington on its behalf. Of that, at least $115,000 was spent on issues related to electronic vehicles, according to lobbying reports. The company devoted another $190,000 to its in-house lobbying operations in the first quarter of the year.
The in-house lobbyists focused on “discussions regarding electric vehicle manufacturing and sales policies and regulation,” as well as “discussions regarding issues impacting [electronic vehicle] manufacturers regarding autonomous drive vehicles,” according to lobbying records filed with the Senate.
Meanwhile, SolarCity, when it was operating separately from Tesla last year, doled out $280,000 to three lobbying firms and spent $660,000 on its in-house lobbying operations.