ExxonMobil blasted New York’s attorney general for being behind a years-long probe into the company apparently based on a phony email scandal.
The company’s legal representatives accused Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat, of manufacturing an email scandal involving now-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to provide a rationale for his investigation, according to court documents filed Thursday in New York.
“To date, Exxon Mobil has produced more than 2.4 million pages of documents in connection with the [New York attorney general’s] climate-change investigation and has worked diligently to respond to [Schneiderman’s] extraordinarily broad and, in our view, often unreasonable and improper, investigative demands,” the lawyers wrote in a letter to the Supreme Court of New York Thursday night.
Schneiderman has not been able to uncover any evidence supporting his belief that Exxon worked for decades to dupe the public about climate change, the letter added.
The empire state legal chief caused a minor stir last week after he told a judge that Tillerson used the alias “Wayne Tracker” for years during email exchanges with company executives. He made his alleged discovery while hiding the names of donors behind a nearly two-year investigation into Exxon’s climate research.
Exxon also rebutted some of Schneiderman’s primary claims, namely that the oil company purposely hid knowledge about the supposedly secret account from the attorney general, who filed a subpoena against Exxon earlier this year to gather the company’s email communications.
The purpose behind the separate email accounts, the letter added, was efficiency — “not secrecy.”
“Were it otherwise, emails to the Wayne Tracker account would have scrupulously avoided any reference to Mr. Tillerson as the intended recipient. Instead, numerous emails to the Wayne Tracker account are expressly addressed to Mr. Tillerson or contain his initials in the body of the email. And, while some of those emails pertain to climate change, the Wayne Tracker account was not established for the purpose of discussing that or any other particular topic,” Exxon’s lawyer wrote.
None of the information in Tillerson’s emails was hidden from the attorney general, the letter adds, because most of the communication with Tillerson’s “Wayne Tracker” alias would show up in the email chains of other executive accounts.
Schneiderman “now suggests that a single email account might house the evidence that his 18-month investigation has yet to uncover,” Exxon said. “The suggestion is preposterous. If the Wayne Tracker account was used to communicate with other Exxon Mobil executives about climate change, those emails would reside in the accounts of the other executives. But the NYAG nowhere claims that the emails he has seen involving the Wayne Tracker account are of any significance whatsoever.”
The company has lambasted the New York Democrat in the past. Schneiderman refuses to produce emails between his office and wealthy donors, such as Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Rockefeller Family Fund, and billionaire activist Tom Steyer, Exxon claims, because he wants to protect the groups that are backing the campaign.
The attorney general 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.
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