N.Y. at­tor­ney gen­eral: Tiller­son used alias for emails on cli­mate change

Austin American-Statesman - - MORE OF TODAY’S TOP NEWS - By David Koenig

The New York at­tor­ney gen­eral says that while Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son was CEO of Exxon he used an alias in emails to talk about cli­mate change.

The at­tor­ney gen­eral, Eric Sch­nei­der­man, made the ac­cu­sa­tion in a let­ter from his of­fice to a New York court Mon­day. He is in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether the com­pany de­ceived in­vestors and the pub­lic by hid­ing for decades what it knew about the link be­tween fos­sil fu­els and cli­mate change.

Sch­nei­der­man said Exxon failed to dis­close that Tiller­son used an ac­count named “Wayne Tracker” to send and re­ceive emails about is­sues in­clud­ing risk man­age­ment re­lated to cli­mate change. Wayne is Tiller­son’s mid­dle name. The ac­count was used from at least 2008 through 2015, he said.

Exxon Mo­bil spokesman Alan Jef­fers said Tiller­son’s reg­u­lar email ad­dress re­ceived a large num­ber of emails, in­clud­ing from out­side the com­pany, and the Wayne Tracker ac­count was cre­ated for se­cure and quick com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween Tiller­son and se­nior ex­ec­u­tives over a broad range of top­ics.

Tiller­son re­signed as chair­man and CEO of Exxon Mo­bil Corp. at year end, af­ter then-Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump picked him to be­come the na­tion’s chief diplo­mat.

The State De­part­ment de­clined to com­ment on Tiller­son’s use of an alias for email while at Exxon, but spokesman Mark Toner said Tiller­son only uses a State De­part­ment email ad­dress to con­duct gov­ern­ment busi­ness and an official phone num­ber for work-re­lated calls.

In a let­ter sub­mit­ted by one of his deputies, Sch­nei­der­man said in­ves­ti­ga­tors found the Wayne Tracker ac­count on about 60 doc­u­ments but that nei­ther Exxon nor its lawyers ever dis­closed that it was used by Tiller­son. He said Exxon has failed to give his of­fice all doc­u­ments cov­ered by a court or­der in re­sponse to his in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Exxon dis­puted that. “The very fact the at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice has these emails is be­cause they were pro­duced in re­sponse to the sub­poena,” Jef­fers said in a state­ment. He said the com­pany has pro­vided more than 2.5 mil­lion pages of doc­u­ments to Sch­nei­der­man’s of­fice.

Tiller­son would not be the first chief ex­ec­u­tive to use an alias in elec­tronic com­mu­ni­ca­tions. A no­table case was John Mackey, the CEO of Whole Foods Mar­ket Inc., who used a pseu­do­nym to post mes­sages on investor web­sites crit­i­ciz­ing another com­pany and sug­gest­ing that its stock was over­priced. Whole Foods later bought the ri­val over ob­jec­tions by fed­eral an­titrust reg­u­la­tors.

Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son was CEO of Exxon.

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