Tesla asked law firm to fire attorney who worked on Elon Musk probe at SEC, report says

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Tesla’s lawyers have called on the law firm to fire one of its lawyers or risk losing its job to an Elon Musk-led electric car maker, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.

Tesla’s lawyers wanted Cooley LLP to previously work at the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. The attorney questioned Musk in 2018 as part of the agency’s investigation into Tesla’s CEO claims that it had obtained funds to privatize Tesla, the release said.

The investigation led to a settlement in which Musk and Tesla each agreed to pay a 20 million fine and Musk agreed to resign as chairman of Tesla for three years.

Late last year, Tesla’s attorney asked Cooley to fire an attorney working on the SEC investigation, the journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The firm did not fire the partner.

According to the journal, Tesla has offered to replace Cooley or hire another attorney in several cases since December.

Musk’s rocket company SpaceX has also stopped working with the legal firm on regulatory matters, and she too has stopped working. Along with the legal firm, the journal reported citing people familiar with the matter.

Tesla has its own relationship with the SEC. The company hired David Misler, the agency’s former defense attorney, as its legal adviser. Musk has faced more regulators than the SEC.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating whether Tesla’s autopilot assistance system is responsible, at least in part, for the incidents where Tesla cars collided with parked first-response vehicles.

The agency called in Missy Cummings, a professor at Duke University, an automated systems expert, a former Navy fighter pilot and a Tesla critic as advisers to the investigation.

Musk tweeted in October that “his resume is highly biased in favor of Tesla,” sparking outrage among his supporters.

The NHTSA then asked Cummings to distance himself from Tesla-specific questions, the Journal reported on Saturday.

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