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Tesla Names New General Counsel

By William Vogeler, Esq. on December 14, 2018 5:59 AM

Tesla has a new general counsel, Dane Butswinkas.

He will oversee the company's legal and government relations teams, and report directly to CEO Elon Musk. Butswinkas will take over from Todd Maron.

It is a curious move, since the outgoing Maron hasn't been general counsel that long and he was also Musk's personal lawyer at one time. But it is not that unusual because GC turnover has become the norm at Tesla.

Next General Counsel

Butswinkas will be the fifth general counsel for the company in a period of ten years. Maron lasted less than one year.

He had been with the company since 2013, and became general counsel earlier this year. He was a family lawyer before that, and handled two Musk divorces.

Like Maron, Butswinkas comes from a different legal environment. He is a trial lawyer and was leading litigation groups at Williams & Connolly.

That may explain why Tesla chose him. The company is facing a host of lawsuits and regulatory investigations.

The $20 Million Tweet

And there was that tweet, when Musk said he might take the company private at $420 a share. That cost him and the company about $20 million.

The Securities and Exchange Commission fined Musk for misleading investors with the ill-advised tweet. Oddly, Musk later tweeted it was "worth it."

Part of the settlement required the company to employ an "experienced securities lawyer" to review social media communications by its seniors officers -- including Musk. Butswinkas, apparently, will have his work cut out for him.

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