- Elon Musk accused Ralph Nader of lying after claiming he took “taxpayers to the cleaners” with Tesla.
- The former presidential candidate described Musk in a tweet as a “gigantic corporate welfare king.”
- The Tesla CEO defended himself and tweeted that Nader was “lying.”
Elon Musk accused consumer advocate and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader of lying after he claimed the billionaire had taken “taxpayers to the cleaners” with Tesla.
In a Friday tweet, Nader wrote that Musk “started Tesla with a huge US government welfare grant.” However, Musk did not start Tesla as it was founded in 2003 by entrepreneurs Martin Eberhard and Marc Tarpenning.
Nader, 88, accused Musk of taking “taxpayers to the cleaners for his factories and for Starlink. He is a gigantic corporate welfare king masquerading as a capitalist businessman.”
—Ralph Nader (@RalphNader) February 24, 2023
It was not clear why Nader made the accusations about Musk and Tesla. The tweet ends with “-R,” meaning it was written by Nader himself rather than one of his staff.
Musk responded: “Ralph Nader, you are lying – shame on you! I personally provided almost all Tesla funding, based on my proceeds from PayPal.”
Musk got about $175 million when eBay bought PayPay for $1.5 billion in 2002.
He became the largest shareholder in Tesla after making a $6.5 million investment in 2004 and took over as CEO in October 2008.
“In late 2008, I gave Tesla the last money I had. It was that or the company would have died. We closed that funding round at 6pm on Christmas Eve,” Musk tweeted. “If we had not closed that round, Tesla would have gone bankrupt 2 days after Christmas. I gave my last money thinking Tesla would probably still die, not thinking that it would be lucrative.”
Musk added in his tweet to Nader that the “first meaningful government funding” Tesla received was in the second quarter of 2010. According to its website, Tesla got about $465 million from the Department of Energy to accelerate the production of electric vehicles.
Musk concluded that “Tesla paid back that loan early with interest” and “taxpayers actually made a profit.” In a press release in May 2013, the EV maker said it had repaid the loan nine years early.
“I would like to thank the Department of Energy and the members of Congress and their staffs that worked hard to create the ATVM program, and particularly the American taxpayer from whom these funds originate,” Musk at the time. “I hope we did you proud.”
In an open letter on February 17, Nader called on Apple CEO Tim Cook and “hedge fund titans” to use their wealth to organize direct relief for the victims of the earthquakes in Turkey and Syria and “other major refugee areas such as the starving children of Somalia.”
Tesla and Nader didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment from Insider, made outside normal working hours.
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