Take that, protectionist politicians!
Bam! Biff! Pow! Tesla has won a battle in its long-running war with the state of Michigan. The U.S. Magistrate Judge Ellen Carmody has ruled in the automaker's favor, insisting that a pair of politicians comply with subpoenas served on them seeking copies of communications with lobbyists conspiring to keep the California-based company from conducting sales and service in the Wolverine State.
Sen. Joe Hune (left) with Michigan Governor Rick Snyder.
The conflict kicked off in earnest back in October 2014, when Governor Rick Snyder signed a bill into law forbidding direct sales by Tesla. After failing to find a way to wriggle around the law, including applying for its own dealership license, it launched a Federal lawsuit and demanded a jury trial. Since then, it's been the politicians behind the legislation doing the wriggling.
Tesla sent a subpoena seeking communication records between Governor Snyder and Michigan Dealers Association, along with others. Notably, this action included correspondence involving Senator Joe Hune (R), who rewrote language in the bill to more narrowly target Tesla, and who's wife, Marcia, by happenstance, works for "lobbying powerhouse" GCSI, which (also, by happenstance) represents the Michigan Automobile Dealers Association (MADA).
Hune and Representative Jason Sheppard (R), apparently worried that having documents come to light might
endanger their political careers cause harassment, raised opposition to the request and sought to have the subpoena quashed.
This most recent ruling, allowing the subpoena process to proceed, comes despite Michigan's prohibition on such actions against legislators in civil cases, as the lawsuit is seen by the court as against the State, and not the individuals named therein.
As the legal battle grinds forward, Tesla continues to operate a single gallery in the state — inside a Nordstrom department store — and no service centers. According to its website, its first such center may be built to Detroit, though it is still optimistically listed as "Coming soon."
Source: Detroit Free Press