Michigan lawmakers involved in the ‘Anti-Tesla’ bill that prohibits the electric car maker from selling directly to consumers must surrender records of their communications with lobbyists and “non-legislative third parties”, according to a new federal judge ruling on Monday.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Ellen Carmody denied efforts by Republican Rep. Jason Sheppard of Lambertville and Republican Sen. Joe Hune of Gregory, to quash subpoenas served on them by Tesla.
In June, Tesla had subpoenaed two Michigan lawmakers for their phone records and internal communications, alleging that Republican Senator Joe Hune’s wife works for a firm that lobbies for the Michigan Automobile Dealers Association, creating a conflict of interest.
“Tesla is entitled to documents that evidence the intent and coordination that took place behind the scenes while the Legislature effectively gave franchised dealers a state-sponsored monopoly on car sales within Michigan – all while engineering the legislative process to steadfastly remove any public attention or scrutiny.” read a statement by Tesla via attorney John Bursch at the time.
Carmody’s ruling in favor of Tesla follows a statement she made in the June hearing, saying that communication records are “fair game”. The new ruling will give Tesla’s attorneys a rare glimpse at the level of influence powerful lobbyists have on state lawmakers and the governor’s office.
Despite the positive outcome for Tesla, Monday’s ruling is seen as only a small step towards progress for the Elon Musk-led company in its long-standing and heated battle with Michigan lawmakers over the right to sell its vehicles directly to consumers. Tesla’s lawsuit against Michigan dates back to October 2014.
Amid claims of corruption, the emergence of strange ‘bedfellows’, and seemingly futile efforts made by Tesla within the state, it’s near certain that the feud between Tesla and Michigan won’t end anytime soon.