The world's most famousentrepreneur is ramping up a battle with its most powerful government, as he sharpens his criticisms of President Joe Biden and aligning himself with Republicans in a culture war.
The White House has done everything it can to sideline and ignore Musk, who said earlier this week that he would vote Republican.
Musk, the chief executive officer of both Musk's companies, has become more political after making a $44 billion bid to buy Twitter. While the move has alarmed many Democrats, Republicans have gleefully seized upon the world's richest person as a new ally.
If the transaction closes, Musk's empire of electric cars, rockets and space-based satellites would expand to include a social media platform that both parties will treat as a battleground in the upcoming elections.
As Musk's businesses have grown, he has become a symbol of everything from immigrant ingenuity to income inequality. His latest posturing makes him a different person. Bureaucrats in regulatory agencies may see him decry their investigations as political attacks. It will be difficult for the Biden administration to ignore him, as he puts other lawmakers in the president's party in a bind.
Gene Munster, a co-founder of the research-driven technology investment firm, said that Elon's unconventional behavior had outsized positive results for him. On the other side, Musk destroyed them. His products are part of their agenda. They will probably be careful when it comes to doing anything that could be construed as a challenge toTesla.
Musk is not a Washington outsider because he has little patience for government bureaucracy. NASA astronauts are flown to the International Space Station and top secret satellites are launched by the company. He has courted politicians on both sides of the aisle for over a decade.
The Department of Energy gave a $465 million loan to the company in 2010. The company paid back the loan in full after going public. During his first term, President Barack Obama visited the launch site of the company.
Musk tried to push for immigration reform when he was on his business council. He left the groups after Trump pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Accords. Musk met with the President of Brazil on Friday, a day after he met with the President of the United States.
Musk is on the radar of several federal agencies because of his large collection of businesses.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration opened two defect investigations into the autopilot feature. The company's decision to test early versions of self-driving on the roads was called a disaster by the National Transportation Safety Board.
In November, the SEC issued a subpoena to the company seeking information on governance processes around compliance with an amended settlement agreement stemming from Musk's failed attempt to take the company private.
The Federal Aviation Administration is in the middle of an environmental review of the plans to launch the massive new Starship rocket from Boca Chica, Texas. The company made multiple changes to its application and the agency decided to delay a decision.
Most expect the FTC to allow the deal to close without an in-depth probe, as the agency is scrutinizing Musk's bid for antitrust concerns. The FTC is looking into why Musk didn't tell them about his 9% stake in the micro-blogging site.
Musk has emerged as a major player in the military industrial complex. He forced his way into the business of military and intelligence satellite launches after campaigning vigorously in Congress and suing the Air Force for the right to compete with a longstanding joint venture of defense giants Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp.
The Air Force certified the company to compete for military launches after it settled a lawsuit. The Boeing-Lockheed venture won 17 of the 42 military launches planned for Phase 2 through fiscal 2024.
The DOD/SpaceX relationship had difficulties and tensions, but in the long run both parties benefited, according to a former space systems acquisitions director.
The federal government had an average of $2.2 million spent by the company. Most of the lobbyists are at outside firms. According to OpenSecrets, about three-quarters of them worked for the government.
As Ukraine defends itself from Russia's invasion, SpaceX has played a critical communications role with Starlink, its effort to provide high-speed broadband internet across the globe. The US Agency for International Development delivered 5,000 Starlink terminals to the government of Ukraine through a public-private partnership.
After making his first fortune in Silicon Valley, Musk lived in Los Angeles for two decades. In 2020 he moved to Texas, a place with no state income tax where SpaceX is expanding and a new factory is being built.
Read more about the Texas Empire.
Musk is a political donor. Federal Election Commission records show that he has contributed less than half a million dollars to political candidates. A $40,000 donation to Obama's re-election campaign in 2012 was one of the highlights of that amount.
He gave $91,700 to Republican candidates and committees. He hasn't made a donation in the current election cycle.
The Republicans allow billionaires to get away without paying taxes, so it doesn't surprise me that Musk is moving to money.
Musk isn't an ally on all of the Republican's pet issues. He said this week that expanded immigration to the US, including from Mexico, is a no-brainer. Kevin McCarthy called Musk a good friend in a floor speech last fall. The committees connected to McCarthy have gotten more money from Musk than any other politician.
Musk wants to protect free speech and will allow Trump to return to the platform. The idea has delighted conservatives, with Senator Ted Cruz calling it the most important development for free speech in decades.
Musk would be at the center of a policy fight over legal protections for online tech giants. Critics argue that courts construed the 1996 law too broadly, giving tech companies immunity over the content posted on their platforms. The political parties differ on how to resolve the problem. Conservatives contend that the platforms censor right-wing voices, while Democrats say unfettered online discourse fuels hate speech.
Since agreeing to buy the social media platform, Musk has been on offense against Democrats, this week blasting them as the party of division and hate, and criticized the administration of Biden.
A White House spokesman said Friday that they were surprised that Musk would look for an opportunity to nip at the heels of the most pro-union and pro-worker.
In February, California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing took the rare step of suingTesla, saying it found evidence that the company operates a racially segregating workplace where Black workers are subjected to racial slurs and discriminated against in job assignments, discipline, pay. Musk blasted as "wacktivism" the decision to remove the company from the ESG version of the S&P 500 Index.
Unlike legacy autos, the factories ofTesla are non-union. Biden's view of unions has cast a pall over his view ofTesla. Musk was against Biden's proposal to give subsidies of up to $12,000 for union-made electric vehicles, but the labor provision would have excluded his company.
In the case of Biden, he is too much captured by the unions, which is not the case with Obama, Musk said at a conference in Miami on Monday.
Musk angrily denied a report that he paid $250,000 to settle a sexual harassment claim. He said the article was a hit piece designed to interfere with his acquisition of the social networking site.
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— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 20, 2022
He took a page out of Trump's book, portraying himself as a victim of partisans, even though he said in September that he would prefer to stay out of politics.
Bill Allison, Elaine Chen, Daniel Flatley, Anthony Capaccio, Steven T. Dennis, Alan Levin, Bill Allison, Elaine Chen, and Daniel Flatley assisted.