Secretary of State Rex Tillerson used a second alias email address to discuss climate change while he was chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil, according to a letter filed in court Monday by the New York Attorney General’s Office.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman alleges that from “at least 2008 to 2015” Tillerson, whose middle name is Wayne, used the “Wayne Tracker” pseudonym email “to send and receive materials regarding important matters, including those concerning to the risk-management issues related to climate change."
Schneiderman is investigating whether ExxonMobil made “significant misrepresentations” about the risks posed by climate change to its shareholders.
“Despite the company’s incidental production of approximately 60 documents bearing the 'Wayne Tracker' email address, neither Exxon nor its counsel have ever disclosed that this separate email account was a vehicle for Mr. Tillerson’s relevant communications at Exxon," the letter, which was filed in New York Supreme Court as part of a fraud investigation into the company, states.
In a statement, ExxonMobil said Tillerson’s main email address received a large volume of messages. The email address Wayne.Tracker@exxonmobil.com was put in place for "secure and expedited" communications between senior executives for a broad range of business-related topics.
"Media reports indicating that emails to or from this address were exclusively for climate-related topics are false," the company said. "ExxonMobil believes the risk of climate change is clear and warrants action."
In November 2015, while Tillerson was still running the company, Schneiderman subpoenaed ExxonMobil for documents in the case. The company initially complied, producing more than 500,000 pages of documents in response to the subpoena.
But according to Schneiderman’s letter, the trove of documents contained only 673 pieces of management material, including just 160 emails from over the decade-long time period of the subpoena.
Last March, about six months after Schneiderman opened his investigation, ExxonMobil appeared to stop cooperating in the investigation.
The company sued Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, who is also investigating ExxonMobil, in Texas federal court. Then Exxon sought to add Schneiderman to the case and stopped turning over documents to the attorney general's office.
Around the same time, Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, the Republican chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, demanded that Schneiderman and Healey turn over documents as part of a congressional investigation, claiming possible violations of state fraud laws.
ExxonMobil said in its statement that it would respond to Schneiderman’s letter in court, not in the media, but added that it has been responsive to the subpoena, providing more than 2.5 million pages of documents.
In December, Schneiderman’s office submitted a motion to dismiss Exxon’s lawsuit and quash the company's related requests for discovery in the Texas case. A judge canceled the deposition of Healey and postponed all discovery in the case.
In the New York case, Schneiderman is requesting that a judge schedule a conference to ensure Exxon’s compliance with the subpoena.
Michael Hayes is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Mike Hayes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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