- Rashid Umar Abbasi / Reuters
- Elon Musk was criticised for donating $38,900 to a Republican fundraising committee, causing some to question his commitment to ending fossil fuels.
- Bloomberg reports that Musk called on the executive director of environmental group, the Sierra Club, to ask for help combatting the criticism.
- The official Sierra Club handle and Executive Director Michael Brune tweeted their support for Musk on Sunday, which reportedly sparked anger within the organisation.
- Musk also asked for his Sierra Club donation of $6 million to be made public.
Elon Musk has had a fraught week.
He apologised to British cave diver Vernon Unsworth for calling him “pedo guy” on Twitter, but a day earlier he was under fire for donating $38,900 (£29,900) to a Republican fundraising committee.
It provoked questions about his commitment to environmental conservation, which struck a chord with Musk, who directly responded to a Twitter user who asked why he is funding people who “don’t believe in climate change.”
Now it seems he tried to deflect criticism by asking an environmental group to praise him on Twitter, according to a report in Bloomberg.
News of his donation broke on Saturday and a day later, the Sierra Club jumped to Musk’s defence. The organization tweeted that that Musk “has dedicated his career to the mission of replacing fossil fuels with clean energy & has strongly backed the Sierra Club’s advocacy work. We are proud to have his support.”
To which Musk expressed his gratitude.
Thank you for fighting climate change. This affects every living creature on Earth. https://t.co/mm0cpaQLsn
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 15, 2018
Now Bloomberg reports that rather than spontaneously coming to Musk’s rescue, the Sierra Club was put up to it. According to Bloomberg, Musk personally called Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune on Saturday night to ask for help defusing the criticism of his GOP donations.
Bloomberg cited an email that Brune sent to staff, in which he wrote that Musk asked him to reveal the $6 million in donations that he had previously made anonymously to the Sierra Club.
In the email, Brune wrote that Musk “asked for some help via Twitter, not about the PAC donation but to buttress the criticism that his commitment to ending fossil fuels was fake.”
Brune tweeted from his personal account about Musk’s donations on Sunday.
Setting all else aside, @elonmusk has spent his career focused on tackling the climate crisis & advancing clean energy. We know that from his work with Tesla & Solar City. And, we know that from his generous $6m in financial support for our climate advocacy @sierraclub (1/2)
— Michael Brune (@bruneski) July 15, 2018
We're proud of Elon's support of our work. — and, we will continue vigorously fighting the climate deniers in the GOP. But Elon's innovation and leadership on climate cannot be denied.
— Michael Brune (@bruneski) July 15, 2018
Bloomberg reports that the support for Musk caused a backlash within the Sierra Club, as staff objected to Brune defending an executive who has backed the Republicans and opposed the United Auto Workers.
In an email on Tuesday, Brune addressed the outrage. “I appreciate the concerns that I’ve seen online and in email that the tweets may be at odds with our support for workers’ rights and defeating the GOP agenda across the country,” he reportedly wrote.
“I don’t agree, but I see the risk and understand the concerns. Musk has made unhelpful anti-union statements and Tesla’s labor practices are also cause for concern, so I take your comments seriously.”
A Tesla spokesperson told Business Insider, “Elon has spent most of his career fighting to prevent climate change and protect the environment. Almost every major carmaker in the world is accelerating development of electric cars primarily because of what Elon and his team have achieved with Tesla. He has also made significant philanthropic contributions to organizations seeking to end the use of fossil fuels, including $6m to the Sierra Club. Elon is committed to backing the Sierra Club in its fight for clean energy and recently asked them to make his support public to reaffirm the sincerity of his commitment.”
Business Insider has contacted the Sierra Club for comment.