New York’s fraud probe of ExxonMobil regarding whether the company misled regulators, investors, and the public of its knowledge of climate change dating back to the ’70s has led to an interesting discovery. In a letter to a state judge, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who is leading the investigation, alleges that current Secretary of State and former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson used the alias “Wayne Tracker” to communicate with senior level Exxon officials about the effects of climate change from 2008 to 2015.
Exxon spokesperson Alan Jeffers explained this alternate email was created for, “secure and expedited communications between select senior company officials and the former chairman for a broad range of business-related topics.” But the probe is suggesting that these emails, along with thousands of additional documents have been kept secret from them in what has been a lengthy and contentious legal process dating back to 2015. Senior enforcement counsel John Oleske wrote according to The Hill:
“Tillerson used this secondary email address to send and receive materials regarding important matters, including those concerning to the risk-management issues related to climate change that are the focus of [the] investigation.”
Exxon lawyers have worked diligently to keep the probe from moving forward in New York due to a perceived “political bias” against the company and Tillerson. Now, this email address, allegedly created to shield Tillerson and Exxon from any legal investigations into whether climate change is man-made, has raised more than a few eyebrows.
Jamie Henn, a spokesman for the environmental group 350.org asks the question, “if they had nothing to hide, then why the secret email account?” She continued by citing the impetus of the investigation: “This is big. Tillerson’s use of a secret email account underscores what we’ve been saying all along: Exxon knew their product causes climate change, but buried the truth in order to protect their profits.”