New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office is alleging that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson used an alias email account while running ExxonMobil from at least 2008 through 2015.
Tillerson used the pseudonym Wayne Tracker in email exchanges discussing climate change and its potential impacts on his company, the New York attorney general’s office wrote in a letter to Judge Barry Ostrager Monday (March 13). Tillerson’s middle name is Wayne. The content of the email exchanges has not been released outside noting that they include matters "concerning to the risk-management issues related to climate change that are the focus of [the attorney general’s] investigation."
Schneiderman launched an investigation into the company in November 2015 to find out how the company may have provided investors with false information on how climate change would impact the business. Seventeen attorney generals joined him in calling out the company’s actions in March 2016, from states including Massachusetts, California, Vermont and Maryland. Only Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey has announced a separate investigation into ExxonMobil.
This all resulted from an InsideClimate News award-winning expose in 2015 showing that ExxonMobil conducted its own climate research in the 1980s that confirmed its role in exacerbating climate change, yet it would go on to later dispute the science outside the company.
As the letter states, information exchanged under the Wayne Tracker alias might prove relevant to the investigation. The company has already handed over 160 emails, but now investigators have suspicion to believe there are more: They found the name in 60 out of the 415,000 documents ExxonMobil gave them.
More specifically, the letter states:
[The New York State Office of the Attorney General] is deeply concerned by the inability or unwillingness of Exxon to provide any explanation at all as to why documents from top executives and Board members have not been produced, by the non-disclosure of Mr. Tillerson’s alias email account, and by the apparent failure to preserve and/or search other sources of managerial documents, despite the fact that these individuals have been centrally involved in approving and publicizing company policies that are a core subject matter of OAG’s investigation.
The state is also requesting information pertaining to 34 other email accounts that belong to top Exxon officials, which the company has not turned over.
Tillerson is the latest among President Donald Trump’s cabinet to face email controversy: Courts forced EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in February 2017 to release email exchanges with the fossil fuel industry, which confirmed his close relationship with them; Vice President Mike Pence came under fire earlier this month after it came out that he used a personal email account to conduct state business while governor of Indiana.