Disgraced Nikola Corp. founder Trevor Milton is seeking to put five candidates onto the electric big rig maker’s board, including the star of a reality-television show championing smoke-spewing diesel trucks.
An entity controlled by Milton notified the company last month that it plans to nominate the slate at Nikola’s 2024 annual shareholders meeting, according to a statement Friday. The candidates include Dave Sparks, one of the stars of the “Diesel Brothers” show which aired for eight seasons on the Discovery Channel.
The unorthodox slate puts a spotlight back on Milton, the company’s former executive chairman who was recently sentenced to prison for fraud and has clashed previously with Nikola’s current management. “Diesel Brothers” features modified vehicles that have drawn complaints over pollution and led to a fine for alleged violations of the Clean Air Act.
Representatives for Milton didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Sparks did not respond to a similar request sent to a social media account.
Other members of the slate include Cole Cannon, Derek Johnson, Hans Peterson and Paul Southam. Nikola “strongly opposes” the nominees, saying they “have no public company experience, add no skills or experience to the board, and indisputably lack the depth of experience that the current Nikola board members bring.”
They also have no expertise in zero-emissions trucking and energy infrastructure, the Phoenix-based company said.
The EV maker plans to disclose its own nominees for the eight-person board when the proxy statement is filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Milton resigned under a cloud from his role as Nikola’s executive chair in September 2020. In December 2023, he was ordered to spend four years behind bars after a jury convicted him of securities fraud and wire fraud for misrepresenting key details about the development of Nikola’s products and technology. The former chief executive officer also was ordered to pay a $1 million fine.
While he has had no involvement in the company’s daily operations for several years, Milton remains one of Nikola’s biggest shareholders. Last year, he called for leadership changes, urging investors to reject company-backed proposals to reelect directors and allow new shares to be issued.
Nikola’s shares fell less than 1% to about 70 cents as of 10:54 a.m. in New York.