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Rex Tillerson Allegedly Used An Alias Email To Discuss Climate Change While At Exxon

The New York Attorney General's Office is investigating whether ExxonMobil made "significant misrepresentations" about the risks posed by climate change to its shareholders.

Last updated on March 13, 2017, at 7:14 p.m. ET

Posted on March 13, 2017, at 5:43 p.m. ET

Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

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 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."

Matt Brown / AP

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.

Steven Senne / AP

Members of the scientific community rally in Boston, calling on President Trump's administration to recognize evidence of climate change and take action on various environmental issues.

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.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.