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Elon Musk targeted in anti-Trump campaign

SAN FRANCISCO – A Silicon Valley investor has launched a campaign to break-up one of tech’s oddest couples — Elon Musk and President Donald Trump.

Doug Derwin, an attorney and private startup investor, has opened a $2 million advertising blitz designed to split the Tesla CEO and clean energy tech mogul from a president signaling wholesale cuts to environmental programs. Musk sits on a presidential business advisory panel and has remained steadfast even as criticism has mounted.

The campaign is the latest — and perhaps the most daring and public — rebuke of Trump from Silicon Valley.

Derwin said he’s angry that Musk is collaborating with a president intent on rolling back environmental protections and hastening climate change — against the core values of Musk’s companies.

“Donald Trump has to be opposed,” Derwin, a 59-year-old tech investor, said in an interview with this newspaper. “This seemed to be an issue that made a lot of sense.”

Tesla CEO Elon Musk listens to President Donald Trump speak during a meeting with business leaders in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 23, 2017. (Photo by NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images) 

Critics have targeted Musk for joining the advisory panel, even as other tech company executives like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Uber’s Travis Kalanick have shied away from the Republican leader.

“Advisory councils simply provide advice and attending does not mean that I agree with actions by the Administration,” Musk said in an earlier statement. “I believe at this time that engaging on critical issues will on balance serve the greater good.”

Derwin began his effort in March, buying a billboard ad in near the Tesla factory in Fremont that read, “Elon: Please Dump Trump.” Other billboards sprouted up on U.S. 101 and on trucks driving near the Tesla headquarters in Palo Alto and Fremont plant.

Derwin said he was willing to call off the campaign if Musk renounced Trump. He met with company officials last week in Fremont and offered to donate $1 million to a charity of Musk’s choice if he broke ties with the Republican president. The company did not agree with his request, he said.

The anti-Trump campaign includes a website, elondumptrump.com, and advertisements in this newspaper and other local and national publications next week. The effort will broadcast commercials on news and comedy television programs.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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