Print 55 comment(s) - last by Reclaimer77.. on Mar 19 at 12:11 PM

Elon Musk threw mafia and Bridgegate references out there

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk is clearly a bit sore about New Jersey's recent decision to ban direct sales of the Model S, as he accuses the new rule of being a "backroom deal" between New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's administration and auto dealers.
Musk wrote his frustrations in a blog post titled, "To the People of New Jersey" on the Tesla Motors website. Musk said Christie's "protection" of consumers is similar to that of the mafia, and even brought up the Bridgegate scandal. 
“The rationale given for the regulation change that requires auto companies to sell through dealers is that it ensures ‘consumer protection’. If you believe this, Gov. Christie has a bridge closure he wants to sell you!” wrote Musk. 
“Unless they are referring to the mafia version of ‘protection’, this is obviously untrue. As anyone who has been through the conventional auto dealer purchase process knows, consumer protection is pretty much the furthest thing from the typical car dealer’s mind."
Musk went on to say that New Jersey's Tesla stores would become galleries after April 1, where customers can come look at the Model S and ask questions, but cannot discuss prices or purchase the cars.
Earlier this month, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s administration proposed the new rule, which requires a person to have a franchise agreement with an auto manufacturer in order to be granted a license to sell. 
Then, last week, the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission voted in favor of the ban of direct auto sales. Tesla already operates two stores in New Jersey, and had plans to open more before this new rule. 

Elon Musk has his game face on. [SOURCE: Business Insider]

New Jersey is now the third state to ban Tesla's direct sales model. Arizona and Texas were the first two states to give Tesla the boot.
Tesla has been in a battle with many states regarding its direct sales model. The issue is that auto dealerships feel Tesla's new sales model threatens their network, which many other automakers rely on. If other automakers were to follow Tesla's example, it would put the dealerships in a bad spot. The National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) said that dealerships are necessary to ensure competitive prices for customers, and that it will continue to defend franchise and consumer laws in the states.  
Tesla CEO Elon Musk, on the other hand, believes that auto dealerships don't do a very good job at selling specialty cars like Tesla's high-end electric vehicles (Roadster, Model S). Hence, he's looking to run his own Tesla stores around the U.S. where he believes his cars will get a fair shot at being sold.   
However, the problem for Tesla is that auto dealerships have much deeper pockets. Auto dealers spent $86.8 million on state election races across the U.S. between 2003 and 2012. They also spent $53.7 million on federal campaigns. Tesla, on the other hand, has spent less than $500,000 on both state and federal politics. 
This type of lobbying seemed to work in Ohio recently, as Ohio Sen. Tom Patton (R-Strongsville) came under the spotlight for backing a bill called Senate Bill 260, which aims to prevent Tesla and any other automaker from "applying for a license to sell or lease new or used motor vehicles at retail." What's interesting is that Patton received at least $42,825 between 2002 and 2013 from state and national auto dealership owners, employees, and political action committees.
Musk seems to be getting fed up with the auto dealer fight, and aimed to hit Christie right where it hurt after the New Jersey ban.
For the New Jersey citizens who are bummed out about the recent ban, Musk wrote that Tesla's cars could still be purchased in the Manhattan store just over the river in Chelsea or the King of Prussia store near Philadelphia.

Source: Tesla Motors

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RE: ridiculous
By TSS on 3/17/2014 1:30:37 PM , Rating: 3

What are you going to *do* about it? Vote in another guy who's campaign was paid for by car dealerships? That'll show em....

RE: ridiculous
By niva on 3/17/2014 1:49:36 PM , Rating: 2
They provide some money, but is it really that much?

This goes back to just needing campaign finance reform badly. Citizens United got it all wrong, completely wrong.

RE: ridiculous
By Reclaimer77 on 3/17/14, Rating: -1
RE: ridiculous
By ebakke on 3/17/14, Rating: 0
RE: ridiculous
By Reclaimer77 on 3/17/14, Rating: -1
RE: ridiculous
By Spuke on 3/17/2014 3:50:19 PM , Rating: 2
Nothing like facts to get in the way of a good lie.

RE: ridiculous
By Mint on 3/17/2014 7:25:42 PM , Rating: 4
Nobody thinks Citizens United caused corporate cronyism.

It just matter-of-factly kills all hope of ending it. It's a crushing blow to campaign finance reform.

A huge part of the justice system relies on precedent and past rulings. Can you give me any possible route to stopping corporations from being a top priority of politicians if the Supreme Court finds unlimited contributions to be inextricably linked to the First Amendment?

Even worse is how shell companies can make these donations anonymous and untraceable, stopping efforts like Jason's to disclose who is donating what (although such efforts are probably in vain anyway).

RE: ridiculous
By Reclaimer77 on 3/17/14, Rating: -1
RE: ridiculous
By Mint on 3/17/2014 8:46:07 PM , Rating: 2
Limiting contributions from corporations (and unions!) in no way infringes on the First Amendment.

The owners/shareholders/employees are free to personal spend their dividends/income from the company however they want, and I have NO objection whatsoever to them individually choosing to pay for a TV commercial.

If you think corporations have all the rights of individuals, then you SUPPORT corporate cronyism. Period.

There's no two ways about it. Corporate cronyism and corporate political contributions are linked by definition. If you support one, then you support the other.

RE: ridiculous
By Reclaimer77 on 3/17/14, Rating: -1
RE: ridiculous
By Mint on 3/17/2014 9:58:47 PM , Rating: 2
This has NOTHING to do with cronyism, campaign finance

It absolutely has MASSIVE implications on campaign finance, and there's hard proof of it. Have you heard of Western Tradition Partnership, Inc. v. Montana?

Montana had a law called the "Montana Corrupt Practices Act of 1912" prohibiting contributions from corporations due to the state's documented history of political corruption. After Citizens United, the law was challenged in the aforementioned case, but the Montana Supreme Court said Citizens United did not apply.

It then went to SCOTUS, and they ruled that there was no difference:
The question presented in this case is whether the
holding of Citizens United applies to the Montana state
law. There can be no serious doubt that it does.

The other day you accused me of not supporting a "flexible democracy" as the founders intended, then you post THIS drivel?
How is this any different? You're only furthering my point: People democratically want limits on corporate donations, and you oppose it.

I believe in basic universal human rights and democracy for the rest. There's nothing incompatible with that notion and my stance here. Individuals can donate whatever they want to politicians.

RE: ridiculous
By Reclaimer77 on 3/17/14, Rating: 0
RE: ridiculous
By therealnickdanger on 3/18/2014 10:01:02 AM , Rating: 1
I won't pretend to know what either of you believe or what either of you know about Citizens United (CU), but I'd like to add that the ruling really did very little to impact corporate political contributions from either perspective.

Critics (liberals) say the CU ruling opens the floodgates to individual and corporate foreign money. The ruling does not remove any such prohibitions. Critics (again, liberals) also feared that it would result in landslide Republican victories. However, as we've seen in the 2010 and 2012 elections, Republicans failed pretty hard in all areas despite the supposed influx of cash. Why?

Corporations want to give anonymously as often as possible to avoid controversy (remember when Target Corp "accidentally" supported an "anti-gay" candidate?), they have been doing so under the loose language of 501c4 and 501c3, which allows for massive amounts of quasi-political advocation without revealing sources. They have been doing this since before CU. Combine those efforts with efforts from 527 organizations like Swiftboat Vets,, etc. and you can essentially drive home very powerful national and local political views to the masses all within the confines of the law. CU did nothing to change these rules.

CU also did nothing to affect 501c5 groups (unions) in which
political donations (union dues) are compulsory. I had to join AFSCME (ASS-ME) to get my job and I get weekly political ads disguised as newsletters telling my which DFL candidates to vote for while also using near-slanderous language to vilify opponents.

The point is, CU changed nothing. Stop whining about it.

RE: ridiculous
By Etsp on 3/18/2014 10:23:35 AM , Rating: 2
Critics (not only liberals) say that CU is going to ultimately limit our choices during the primaries to those candidates with heavy corporate backing, whose focus will be mostly on corporate profits.

Are representatives on the right going to be focusing on corporate profits more than the left? Of course they are, it's part of their platform.

RE: ridiculous
By therealnickdanger on 3/18/2014 11:51:23 AM , Rating: 1
The critics (almost entirely liberals) are without evidence. We are no more limited in candidate choice today than we were four years ago or eight years ago.

Why do you equate corporate profits with something bad? Everyone loves corporate profits! Right-wingers love them because they serve as entrepreneurial inspiration and all that jazz. Liberals only hate on corporate profits when that corporation does NOT give money to their causes (eco-something, PETA, GLAAD, pro-union, pro-DFL, etc.). These causes and party platforms have not changed since CU. The donations to candidates that support these platforms have not changed since CU.

Nothing has changed.

RE: ridiculous
By Reclaimer77 on 3/18/2014 11:05:39 AM , Rating: 1
Great post.

Unions influence politics far more than CU, but Liberals are strangely silent about them.

I'm just sick of the constant whining over something that's, as you pointed out, not even a big deal. And people making it a scapegoat for every little thing.

RE: ridiculous
By Mint on 3/17/2014 7:53:45 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think it is that much, given the numbers that Jason gave us, which is why Elon Musk is trying to rile up the public.

If a policy is unpopular enough, then politicians will not want to be associated with it, especially if the benefiting companies' contributions are insignificant.

RE: ridiculous
By Reclaimer77 on 3/17/2014 8:07:50 PM , Rating: 2
If a policy is unpopular enough, then politicians will not want to be associated with it

Yeah cause that worked out so good for us with Obamacare...

oh wait.

RE: ridiculous
By Mint on 3/17/2014 9:32:50 PM , Rating: 2
Obamacare has roughly 45-60% against it, depending on the poll, and there's HUGE money involved. He can't seek re-election anyway.

Dealer laws in polls show 86-99% are against it, and the article is claiming a relatively small donation ($53B is under 0.3% of the >$20B spent in federal elections over that time).

That's a big difference. If a policy turns off voters more than the money behind it can boost votes, it's not worth it.

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