What Happened To Tesla’s White House Petition?

Back in July, a fan of Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) submitted a petition to the White House in an attempt to get the Obama administration to throw its weight behind the automaker’s direct-to-consumer sales model. At issue is whether Tesla should be allowed to sell its vehicles directly to consumers rather than using auto dealerships, which have been picking fights with the automaker over the issue in several states.

The petition hung in the balance for a few days in July, but as media coverage around it grew, it finally reached the number of signatures required in order for the White House to weigh in. However, no response has been given as of yet. So what happened to that petition?

Michael Mauboussin: Here’s what active managers can do

michael mauboussin, Credit Suisse, valuation and portfolio positioning, capital markets theory, competitive strategy analysis, decision making, skill versus luck, value investing, Legg Mason, The Success Equation, Think Twice: Harnessing the Power of Counterintuition, analysts, behavioral finance, More Than You Know: Finding Financial Wisdom in Unconventional Places, academics , valuewalkThe debate over active versus passive management continues as trends show the ongoing shift from active into passive funds. Q2 2020 hedge fund letters, conferences and more At the Morningstar Investment Conference, Michael Mauboussin of Counterpoint Global argued that the rise of index funds has made it more difficult to be an active manager. Drawing Read More

Tesla petition remains popular

Even though the petition supporting Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) was submitted months ago, it remains popular on the White House site and continues to get signatures. In fact, as of today, it is still the fifth most popular open petition on the site after surpassing 122,000 signatures.

The person who posted the petition told ValueWalk that at this point, he doesn’t think the White House will ever respond to that petition, even though it is generally supposed to issue a response when the signature threshold is reached within the required time frame. Interestingly enough, the White House decided to weigh in on an issue regarding “temporary protected status for Guatemala”—even though that petition got less than 30,000 signatures. There are also other petitions which received a response in spite of the few signatures as well.

So what about Tesla?

So why doesn’t the petition about Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) deserve a response?  I contacted the White House via the provided “Contact Us” link on the petition website to find out the answer to this question, but as expected, my inquiry did not receive a response either. There is a statement under the Terms of Participation on the site which could provide a clue as to why a response was not given. However, due to the extreme popularity of this petition, you would think that the White House would at the very least respond to it citing this particular part of the terms:

“To avoid the appearance of improper influence, the White House may decline to address certain procurement, law enforcement, adjudicatory, or similar matters properly within the jurisdiction of federal departments or agencies, federal courts, or state and local government in its response to a petition.”

Everyone who signed the petition is supposed to receive a response via email, and you would think they would have a form letter response to send if this is the answer. However, the lack of any answer at all suggests that perhaps the Tesla Motors Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) issue doesn’t fall under any of these categories and the White House just doesn’t want to provide an answer on a topic which is clearly incendiary among auto dealerships.