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Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

Nikola announced Monday that executive chairman Trevor Milton, who is also the company's founder, is out as the electric and fuel cell truck startup reportedly faces federal inquiries into a short-seller's allegations of inaccurate or misleading statements.

Why it matters: It's the latest move in a head-spinning series of events for Nikola.

The big picture: Nikola's value soared after going public in June, and GM took an 11% stake earlier this month and agreed to build its planned Badger pickup and supply tech for that vehicle and other planned semi-trucks.

  • Just days later, Hindenburg Research, which is shorting Nikola, issued a scathing report calling it an "intricate fraud" based on "lies" by Milton. He has disputed the claims.
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York are both reportedly looking into the claims.

Details: Milton, in a statement, said "the focus should be on the company and its world-changing mission, not me."

  • Stephen Girsky, a former GM executive already on Nikola's board, is taking over as board chairman immediately.
  • Nikola's stock was down roughly 24% in pre-market trading.

Go deeper: GM's eyes are wide open on Nikola partnership

Go deeper

The workaday path to the electric vehicle era

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The electric vehicle revolution is underway, led by the un-sexiest of plug-in models: the commercial truck.

Why it matters: Growing demand for cleaner trucks means 2021 will be a pivotal year for electric vehicles — just not the kind you might have expected.

Collins helps contractor before pro-Susan PAC gets donation

Sen. Susan Collins during her reelection campaign. Photo: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

A PAC backing Sen. Susan Collins in her high-stakes reelection campaign received $150,000 from an entity linked to the wife of a defense contractor whose firm Collins helped land a federal contract, new public records show.

Why it matters: The executive, Martin Kao of Honolulu, leaned heavily on his political connections to boost his business, federal prosecutors say in an ongoing criminal case against him. The donation linked to Kao was veiled until last week.

How cutting GOP corporate cash could backfire

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Companies pulling back on political donations, particularly to members of Congress who voted against certifying President Biden's election win, could inadvertently push Republicans to embrace their party's rightward fringe.

Why it matters: Scores of corporate PACs have paused, scaled back or entirely abandoned their political giving programs. While designed to distance those companies from events that coincided with this month's deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol, research suggests the moves could actually empower the far-right.