The attorney general who revealed Rex Tillerson used a pseudonym while with ExxonMobil continues to block requests to review the Democrat’s connections to groups bankrolling the anti-Exxon probe.
New York AG Eric Schneiderman told a judge earlier this week that Tillerson used the alias “Wayne Tracker” for years during email exchanges with company executives. The Democrat made his revelation while hiding the names of donors behind a nearly two-year investigation into Exxon’s climate research.
Schneiderman refuses to fork over emails between his office and wealthy donors such as Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Rockefeller Family Fund, and billionaire activist Tom Steyer. He uses a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) “law enforcement” exemption to justify blocking the requests, and claims his communication with the donors is part of the Exxon investigation.
One of Schneiderman ‘s predecessors, Dennis Vacco, even dismissed the attorney general’s use of the exemption, writing in an editorial Tuesday that “[R]eleasing them would reveal the real role of the special interests in the investigation and would shed light on whether the investigation is proper or an abuse of power.”
There is some evidence that various billionaire groups heavily nudged – or downright compelled – Schneiderman to investigate Exxon, especially after InsideClimate News reported in 2015 that the oil company for decades hid knowledge about global warming from its shareholders.
The best way to nail Exxon for hiding climate change research was to request the AG’s office to open a probe into the company, David Kaiser and Lee Wasserman, directors of the Rockefeller Family Fund (RFF), wrote in an editorial for New York Books.
“It is up to government officials, not public interest advocates, to determine whether ExxonMobil’s conduct” violated state law, so the RFF “informed state attorneys general of our concern that ExxonMobil seemed to have failed” to make public the risks climate change poses to investors, they wrote in December.
Wasserman’s editorial runs contrary to previous comments he made suggesting Exxon was never singled out when it donated $25,000 to InsideClimate News, the outlet principally responsible for kick-starting the anti-Exxon fervor.
The two RFF executives impressed upon Schneiderman the importance of using a little-known law called the Martin Act to take down Exxon.
Legal analyst Merritt Fox believes it’s inappropriate to use the Martin Act against the company.
The law requires the likelihood that a reasonable investor would consider the omitted important information and decided “not to vote or buy, sell, or hold, and that it has to significantly alter a total mix of information available to this reasonable man or reasonable investor,” he told a Columbia Law School panel last year.
But since information was already easily acquired using a computer, television, or some other tool, according to Fox, then whatever data Exxon chose to hide or withhold was not “material,” or likely to affect the decision-making of its investors.
Schneiderman has also raked in nearly $264,000 in campaign donations from wealthy benefactors with ties to the very groups that would benefit from a besieged Exxon.
Liberal billionaire George Soros and his family, for instance, plowed more than $250,000 to Schneiderman’s political war chest since 2006. The wealthy financier himself has donated $64,500 to the crusading lawman.
Members of the Rockefeller family have also given money to Schneiderman in the past, with most it coming from environmental lawyer Larry Rockefeller, who has given Schneiderman $7,500 since 2014.
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