Tesla CEO Elon Musk hosted California Gov. Gavin Newsom during a tour of the electric carmaker’s engineering headquarters in Palo Alto on Wednesday — a surprising development given the billionaire’s frequent criticism of the Democratic Party.
Musk and Newsom delivered brief remarks lavishing praise on one another as Tesla plans an expansion of its engineering operations in California.
The mogul noted that Newsom was one of the first customers to buy a Tesla Roadster more than a decade-and-a-half ago.
“He had my money for a long while with that,” Newsom joked, telling Musk: “By the way, that was a healthy deposit that [I] had to make. You didn’t trust me.”
“That was a lot of money in 2007,” Musk replied.
“It’s still a lot of money,” Newsom said.
Musk then thanked Newsom for “supporting Tesla.”
Musk, for his part, praised California as a hotbed of innovation — a departure from his recent criticisms of the state for its tight regulatory environment.
Sources close to Newsom told CNBC that the meeting was expected to focus on Tesla’s efforts to create jobs and expand in the Golden State.
Tesla is looking to hire more engineers who are proficient in research and development as well as artificial intelligence, according to CNBC.
The company’s new engineering headquarters is located in the same office space once occupied by computer giant Hewlett-Packard.
Musk reportedly initiated the meeting with Newsom after previous efforts to arrange a face-to-face between the two failed, according to CNBC.
Tesla has also been in the crosshairs of regulators in the Newsom administration.
Last February, California sued Tesla over allegations it discriminated against black employees and operated a “racially segregated workplace” within its Fremont factory.
Tesla called the suit “misguided” in a blog post published before news of the suit was made public.
Newsom’s joint appearance with Musk is noteworthy since top Democrats in California have lashed out at the Tesla mogul for relocating the headquarters of the electric car giant from the Bay Area to Austin, Texas.
In October, San Francisco Mayor London Breed referred to Musk as “the person who got a ton of tax breaks in California and decided to take that money and run.”
Breed, whose has urged business leaders to bring their employees back into the office in her city that was hit hard by remote work, made the comment in response to a question about Musk’s frequent criticisms of Democratic policies in states and cities ruled by the party.
Lawmakers in California were outraged when Musk announced in 2021 that Austin would be the new home headquarters for Tesla — a company that had received more than $3.2 billion worth of direct and indirect subsidies from Sacramento since 2009.
Upon announcing his decision to move to Texas, Musk said: “California used to be the land of opportunity. Now it has become and is becoming more so the land of overregulation, overlitigation, overtaxation and scorn.”
Musk chafed at COVID-19 lockdown measures that forced the temporary closure of his Tesla plant in Fremont.
In April of last year, Musk angered local officials in San Francisco when he suggested that the headquarters for Twitter, the microblogging site that he acquired for $44 billion, be converted into a homeless shelter since “no one shows up anyway.”
San Francisco city officials recently launched an investigation of Twitter after several staffers reported that some offices had been converted into makeshift bedrooms equipped with mattresses.
Twitter employees were spending the night at company headquarters to meet the demands of Musk’s new “hardcore culture” edict.
In the fall, Musk declared he was supporting Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) for president. DeSantis has yet to declare his candidacy.
Musk, who in the past has supported the likes of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Joe Biden, has been critical of the Democratic Party, saying it has become a “party of division and hate.”
On social media, Musk has frequently tussled with progressive lawmakers, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).
Just days after taking over Twitter, Musk angered Democrats and their supporters by tweeting — and then deleting — a post which linked to an unfounded rumor about the assault on Paul Pelosi, the husband of then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Though Musk has insisted he does not identify as a conservative, he publicly urged his 119 million Twitter followers to vote Republican in the 2022 midterm elections and has raised ire from liberal users for reinstating right-wing accounts — including that of former President Trump.
“As a reminder, I was a significant supporter of the Obama-Biden presidency and (reluctantly) voted for Biden over Trump,” Musk said.
“My preference for the 2024 presidency is someone sensible and centrist. I had hoped that would the case for the Biden administration, but have been disappointed so far.”