Exxon's former CEO and current Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, used an alias email account for communication regarding climate change, New York's Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in the course of an investigation against the oil major on allegations that it withheld information about climate change from shareholders and the public.
Tillerson, whose middle name is Wayne, used the Wayne Tracker account on the Exxon system from at least 2008 through 2015, Schneiderman said.
Tillerson received thousands of emails a day from climate change activists and others at his regular address - Rex.W.Tillerson@ExxonMobil.com - and that made it hard to parse which messages were important to promptly address Exxon's business operations, Jeffers said. The letter also mentions 34 other e-mail accounts "specifically assigned to top executives, board members, or assistants" that the attorney general thinks should have been included.
It asked the court to order Exxon to identify whether any other email accounts were used byTillerson. Sixty-four of those sent and received met the parameters for Schneiderman's climate change subpoena and were turned over to NY officials, Jeffers said.
In the Exxon case, Schneiderman requested all relevant documents, including Tillerson's Wayne Tracker emails, as he "determines which witnesses to seek testimony from as the investigation proceeds to its next logical phase", according to the filing.More news: Trump travel order dealt first court setback
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". "It was an account used for everyday business by senior executives who needed to reach" Tillerson, who left the company at the end of 2016 to become secretary of state.
Aliases have been employed by top corporate executives for email accounts to throw off hackers, avoid people guessing their digital address or reduce unwanted messages.
"We launched this probe after an important news series revealed that the company may have misled investors about the risks of climate change", Schneiderman said.
"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?"
"It could be misleading to not tell the attorney general the actual owner of that email address", said Cohen, who isn't involved in the dispute.