Tesla Chief Accounting Officer Dave Morton Resigns After One Month

Elon Musk, Tesla chairman, smokes a "spliff" (marijuana and tobacco cigar) on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast.
The Joe Rogan Experience / YouTube

Tesla’s Chief Accounting Officer Dave Morton has resigned from the embattled electric vehicle company, citing unsought levels of “public attention placed on the company.”

“Since I joined Tesla on August 6th, the level of public attention placed on the company, as well as the pace within the company, have exceeded my expectations,” Morton, who joined Tesla just one month ago, said in a statement. “As a result, this caused me to reconsider my future. I want to be clear that I believe strongly in Tesla, its mission, and its future prospects, and I have no disagreements with Tesla’s leadership or its financial reporting.”

Moments after Morton’s resignation, Tesla’s Chief People Officer Gaby Toledano announced she would not be returning to the company after taking a 15-month leave of absence August 15.

Shares of the car company tumbled 9 percent premarket. Currently, shares are down 10%, the biggest daily $TSLA loss since 2016.

The resignations come after Tesla CEO Elon Musk smoked marijuana and drank whiskey during a two-and-a-half-hour interview on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast.

A recent 8-K filing shows Morton joined Tesla as head of accounting July 30 and officially stepped down from the Palo Alto-based company on September 4. The outgoing executive was CFO of data storage giant Seagate Technology prior to working at Tesla.

According to regularity filings reviewed by Bloomberg, Morton, whose annual base salary was $350,000, walked away from a $10 million “new-hire equity grant,” said to vest over a four-year period. Morton had taken over for the company’s previous account head, Eric Branderiz, who resigned on March 7 citing “personal reasons.”

“Toledano’s leave follows the departure of Sarah O’Brien, who headed up Tesla’s communications team. Laurie Shelby, who heads the company’s environmental, health and safety efforts, and Cindy Nicola, head of global recruiting, are the last remaining female executives at the company,” TechCrunch reported last month. In July, Tesla announced Doug Field, Senior Vice President of Engineering, was departing the company after taking a leave of absence.

On Thursday, Citron Research editor and famed short seller Andrew Left filed a lawsuit against Tesla for violating federal securities law. According to a copy of the complaint, Left says Musk basely claimed that he had secured funding to take Tesla private in order to artificially boost its share price.

“This appears to be a textbook case of fraud,” Michael Canty, an attorney at Labaton Sucharow LLP, said in a statement. “We believe Musk attempted to manipulate the price of Tesla securities with false and misleading tweets, in a directed effort to harm short-sellers.”

On August 7, Musk infamously tweeted that he had raised enough capital to take the Tesla private at $420 per share.

Musk told the Wall Street Journal that following a productive meeting with Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, he was left with the impression that raising money to take Tesla private was well within reach. Thence, even if funding had not been secured, Musk thought capital wouldn’t be markedly difficult to raise. “If the odds are probably in your favor, you should make as many decisions as possible within the bounds of what is executable,” the entrepreneur said, later adding, “This is like being the house in Vegas. Probability is the most powerful force in the universe, which is why the house always wins. Be the house.”

Later, Musk would reveal in an August 24 blog post that Tesla’s board of directors were no longer exploring plans to take the company private. “I worked with Silver Lake, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, who have world-class expertise in these matters, to consider the many factors that would come into play in taking Tesla private, and to process all the incoming interest that we received from investors to fund a go-private transaction,” Musk wrote. “I also spent considerable time listening to current shareholders, large and small, to understand what they think would be in the best long-term interests of Tesla.”

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