A former security manager told Bloomberg Businessweek that Tesla hacked, spied on, and engaged in a smear campaign against whistleblower Martin Tripp.
Sean Gouthro, a former security manager at Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory, claimed Elon Musk personally hired Tesla investigators to hack into an employee’s phone, spy on his messages, and even mislead police about a potential mass shooting, all in response to whistleblowing.
He also claims a Tesla investigator installed a device at the factory that monitored everyone’s private communications.
The alleged smear campaign took place after a June 2018 Business Insider report revealed that Tesla was scrapping or reworking 40 percent of the raw materials, blowing through cash to produce the Model 3s, and having other serious production problems, costing the company an estimated $150 million.
Gouthro claims that he was tasked with tracking down the source of the leak when all signs lead to Tripp who was the only employee with access to data cited in the expose. Tripp admitted to leadking the information but denied taking any bribes as he had been accused of doing.
Tripp was eventually fired and was then sued by Tesla for $167 million claiming he unlawfully hacked confidential data and coordinated with Tesla rival companies. Someone also filed a false report that Tripp planned to carry out a mass shooting at the Tesla factory.
Gouthro later filed a whistleblower report with the SEC claiming Tesla’s security operations behaved unethically. A Tesla spokesperson in the story dismissed the allegations as "untrue and sensationalized,” but didn’t comment on specifics.