Elon Musk asked Sierra Club chief to help defend him on Twitter

And the fallout has begun.

Zoey Chong Reporter
Zoey is CNET's Asia News Reporter based in Singapore. She prefers variety to monotony and owns an Android mobile device, a Windows PC and Apple's MacBook Pro all at the same time. Outside of the office, she can be found binging on Korean variety shows, if not chilling out with a book at a café recommended by a friend.
Zoey Chong
2 min read

Elon Musk


When Elon Musk made donations to Republicans, disapproval flooded in on Twitter. So he turned to the head of environmental group Sierra Club for help.

Musk called Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune over the weekend and asked him to make public the Tesla CEO's more than $6 million donations to the group that were previously anonymous, Bloomberg reported Wednesday, citing Brune's email to his staff. Musk also asked Brune to vouch for him after drawing fire over the past week for having contributed nearly $39,000 to a pro-Republican group in the second quarter.

Brune is now "dealing with blow-back" from Sierra Club staff who aren't happy that he acceded to Musk's request, Bloomberg reported. Brune had tweeted three times on Twitter over the weekend -- twice from his personal account and once from Sierra Club's -- commending Musk and his "innovation and leadership on climate [change]" and said Sierra Club is "proud" to have his support.

While Brune disagreed with concerns that the tweets "may be at odds with [the group's] support for workers' rights and defeating the GOP agenda," he said he took them seriously given Musk's history of making "unhelpful anti-union statements and Tesla's labour practices."  

The revelation emerged around the same time Musk drew flak for calling a British diver who helped rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave a "pedo guy," though he eventually heeded advice from investors and apologised. The diver was reportedly considering legal action against Musk following the offending tweet.

"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," a spokesperson for Musk told CNET in an email.

"He has also made significant philanthropic contributions to organizations seeking to end the use of fossil fuels, including $6 million 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," the spokesperson added.

CNET has reached out to Sierra Club for a comment.

First published July 19 at 2:19 a.m. PT.
Update, 7:33 p.m.: Adds comment from Musk's spokesperson.    

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