Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson used a secondary email address under the name of “Wayne Tracker” to send and receive information about climate change and other topics during his tenure at Exxon Mobil, according to the New York State Attorney General’s office.
Exxon Mobil confirmed the secondary email account and stressed that it was not used exclusively for climate change matters, saying in a statement it was used for “a broad range of business-related topics.”
Company Alan Jeffers added that the account was “mostly used while he [Tillerson] was traveling to ensure he’d see an item in a secure and timely way without having to sort through his regular email inbox, which could contain many items. To suggest it was exclusively or even primarily about climate issues is absolutely false and misleading.”
The state attorney general’s office discovered “Wayne Tracker” during an investigation of Exxon Mobil to determine whether the company had misled shareholders and the public about the possible financial risks that climate change poses to its business.
The investigation began in November 2015, and on Monday, the attorney general’s office sent a letter to New York County Supreme Court saying Exxon Mobil “has failed to comply in good faith” with a subpoena issued to produce documents from its top executives, including from the “Wayne Tracker” email account.
“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, and no documents appear to have been collected from this email account, which also does not appear on Exxon’s list of preserved custodial sources or its privilege logs,” the A.G.’s letter reads.
The letter also says there are “thirty-four additional email accounts specifically assigned to top executives, board members or their assistants,” which were not initially produced in the investigation.
For its part, Exxon Mobil said in its statement the company “has been responsive … and has provided more than 2.5 million pages of documents.”
“Media reports indicating that emails to or from this address were exclusively for climate-related topics are false,” the statement reads. “The very fact the attorney general’s office has these emails is because they were produced in response to the subpoena.”
It continues: “Rex Tillerson’s main email address received a large volume of messages from a variety of internal and external sources. The email address, Wayne.Tracker@exxonmobil.com, is part of the company’s email system and was put in place for secure and expedited communications between select senior company officials and the former chairman for a broad range of business-related topics.”
It is not unheard of for executives to maintain alias email accounts for inner circle communications.
The company also said it “believes the risk of climate change is clear and warrants action.”
Tillerson’s middle name is Wayne, but the company did not explain the origin of the name of “Wayne Tracker.”
“I’m not sure how the name was chosen,” Jeffers, the company spokesman, told ABC News in an email.
After a four-decade career at the company, Tillerson, 64, left this year to become President Trump’s secretary of state. He had been Exxon Mobil’s chairman and CEO since 2006.
The news of the secondary email account has raised questions among climate advocacy groups.
“If they had nothing to hide,” Jamie Henn, the communications director at climate change advocacy group 350.org, said, “than why the secret email account?”
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