Here was the score after Tesla Motors spent more than a year attempting to establish a direct sales operation in New Jersey: 0 to 696,749.
It was a blowout.
The luxe electric car company was outraged Tuesday when the The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission approved a proposal banning auto manufacturers from selling cars directly to consumers. In a blog post and series of tweets Tesla blamed the move on bad faith negotiating by the administration of Gov. Chris Christie and “attacks” from the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers. However, if Tesla was indeed under attack, it looks like the company didn’t make any attempt to fight back against the car dealers’ lobby on a crucial political front — the company didn’t give any money to local politicians.
Campaign finance records show, the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers’ political action committee, CAR PAC, has made hundreds of political donations as the group lobbied on behalf of car dealers in the Garden State. In contrast, records show no donations to any politicians in New Jersey coming from Tesla, its employees, or the company’s co-founder and CEO Elon Musk.
According to the National Institute of Money In Politics, the New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers and its employees gave a grand total of $US696,749 to politicians and campaign committees in the Garden State from 2003 through 2009. This included contributions to both Democratic and Republican officials and organisations in both houses of the Legislature. Beneficiaries of CAR PAC’s largesse included the current Democratic president of the state senate, Stephen Sweeney, the state senate’s current Republican minority leader, Thomas Kean Jr., and the Democratic majority leader of the New Jersey General Assembly.
The New Jersey Coalition of Automotive Retailers did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider. However, one of the organisation’s websites makes clear influencing the Legislature is a core part of its mission.
“A major responsibility of NJ CAR is to represent New Jersey’s automotive retailers in legislative matters,” the site says. “The Coalition has been active at every session of the New Jersey Legislature in defending the industry against adverse legislation, as well as initiating and supporting legislation favourable to franchised New Jersey new car and truck retailers.”
Tesla may have engaged in its own lobbying efforts, but it doesn’t seem like the company put any financial muscle behind them.
After Tesla blasted the governor’s office, Christie administration spokesman Kevin Roberts sent a statement to Business Insider arguing Tesla was told as soon as it set up shop in the Garden State that it “would need to engage the Legislature on a bill to establish their new direct-sales operations under New Jersey law.”
If the way to win hearts and minds in the Legislature was paved with gold, Tesla let the car dealer’s lobby push them off the road.
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