Sec. of State Rex Tillerson now has an email problem

The former Exxon head used an alias to discuss climate change.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson smiles as President Donald Trump speaks during a Cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, March 13, 2017. CREDIT: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson smiles as President Donald Trump speaks during a Cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, March 13, 2017. CREDIT: AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

At least it’s not Carlos Danger.

Another alias email account — that of “Wayne Tracker”— is poised to cause problems for a high-level official, this time former Exxon CEO and current Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Tillerson used an alias email account from at least 2008 to 2015 to discuss climate change, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office said in a court filing Monday.

Schneiderman, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, and the Securities and Exchange Commission are currently investigating whether Exxon defrauded the public by engaging in a campaign to discredit climate science, propping up the value of its oil and gas reserves. The Wayne Tracker email account — Tillerson’s middle name is Wayne — was discovered in the course of the investigation, known as the Exxon Knew case.

“This is a significant development in Schneiderman’s investigation into what Exxon knew about climate change, when it knew it, and what the company did to conceal it,” Naomi Ages, Greenpeace’s lead on the climate liability project, said in a statement. “Was Rex Tillerson that worried about climate risks for Exxon? Or was he more worried about the risk of revealing them to his shareholders and to the public? Or was it both?”

Documents uncovered in 2015 suggest that as far back as the 1970s, Exxon scientists knew that burning fossil fuels were the primary contributor to climate change.

Environmentalists have long been saying that to prevent catastrophic climate change, humanity needs to rapidly transition away from fossil fuels. But Exxon — as well as the Koch brothers and other fossil fuel interests — have worked against that effort, funding attempts to discredit the theory of global warming.

It is illegal for a company to withhold liability risks from its shareholders.

Exxon spokesman Alan Jeffers told Bloomberg that the alias account was created after Tillerson’s general inbox became overloaded, and it was used for “secure and expedited communications between select senior company officials and the former chairman for a broad range of business-related topics.”

Schneiderman’s office says Exxon failed to disclose who the email account belonged to and that Exxon has failed to produce thousands of documents responsive to the state’s subpoena. The New York State Supreme Court ordered in October that the oil and gas giant had to comply with the subpoena. A Massachusetts court has also upheld the investigation.

In his confirmation hearing, Tillerson declined to answer any questions about what Exxon knew about climate change, directing senators to his former company, where he worked for over 30 years.

This is not the first email problem for the current administration, which, arguably, arrived at the White House on the back of Hillary Clinton’s email “scandal.” Clinton used a private, secured server for emails during her time as Secretary of State.

It has come to light that, as governor of Indiana, now-Vice President Mike Pence conducted official business via an AOL account that was subsequently hacked.

EPA head Scott Pruitt’s emails are also under scrutiny. His former office, the Oklahoma Attorney General, is currently embroiled in a lawsuit to force the release of emails between Pruitt, his deputies, and oil and gas interests. Pruitt also used a private email account to conduct official business, a fact he denied during his Senate confirmation hearing.