- Elon Musk accuses Ralph Nader of lying after claiming he took “taxpayers to the cleaners” with Tesla.
- The former presidential candidate described Musk as a “giant corporate welfare king” in a tweet.
- Tesla’s 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 took “taxpayers to the cleaners” with Tesla.
In Friday’s 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 Mark Tarpenning.
Nader, 88, accused Musk of “taking taxpayers to the cleaners for his factories and Starlink. He is a giant corporate welfare kingpin operating as a capitalist businessman.”
—Ralph Nader (@ralphnader)
February 24, 2023
It is not clear why Nader accused Musk and Tesla. The tweet ends with “-R”, meaning it was written by Nader himself rather than one of his employees.
Musk replied: “Ralph Nader, you are lying – shame on you! I personally provided almost all of Tesla’s funding, based on my income from PayPal.”
When eBay bought PayPay in 2002 for $1.5 billion, Musk got about $175 million.
He became the largest shareholder in Tesla after investing $6.5 million in 2004, and took over as CEO in October 2008.
“In late 2008, I gave Tesla my last money. It was that or the company would have died. We closed that funding round at 6PM on Christmas Eve,” Musk tweeted. “If we hadn’t closed that round, Tesla would have gone bankrupt 2 days after Christmas. I put down my last money thinking Tesla would probably still die, not thinking 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 received about $465 million from the Department of Energy to ramp up production of electric vehicles.
Musk concluded that “Tesla quickly repaid that loan with interest” and that “taxpayers actually made a profit.” In a May 2013 press release, the EV maker said it had repaid the loan nine years ago.
“I want to thank the Department of Energy and the members of Congress and their staff who worked hard to build the ATVM program, and especially the American taxpayers from whom these funds originated,” Musk said at the time. “I hope we made you proud.”
In an open letter dated February 17, Nader implored Apple CEO Tim Cook and “hedge fund titans” to organize direct relief for victims of earthquakes in Turkey and Syria and “other major refugee areas such as starving children”. asked to use his funds. of Somalia.”
Tesla and Nader did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Insider made outside normal business hours.