State Secretary Rex Tillerson used the email alias ‘Wayne Tracker’ when discussing climate change while serving as Exxon Mobil chief executive.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman disclosed the finding in a court filing that is part of his office’s legal investigation into Exxon. In a letter to Judge Barry Ostrager of the New York state court in Manhattan sent on Monday, Schneiderman accused Tillerson of using the alias to avoid turning over thousands of important documents and email communications in contempt of a court order.
The ongoing investigation seeks to establish whether the oil giant, then under Tillerson, had fraudulently misled investors on the impact of climate change.
An account affiliated with Wayne Tracker had reportedly existed on the Exxon system between 2008 and 2015. In his letter to the judge, Schneiderman writes that Tillerson, whose middle name is Wayne, used this pseudonym as a “vehicle” to discuss business.
“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, and no documents appear to have been collected from this email account,” the attorney general’s letter explains.
The company, however, denies that it was failing to comply with the subpoena and that Tillerson simply used the secondary account after his main inbox, associated with his real name, was too full to manage.
In a statement to Bloomberg, Exxon spokesperson Alan Jeffers said that the Wayne Tracker account was naively used by the former CEO for “secure and expedited communications between select senior company officials and the former chairman for a broad range of business-related topics.”
Concern over the alias, criticized as an effort to conceal information and resist transparency, has been voiced by various climate activist groups. Jamie Henn, speaking on behalf of environmental group 350.org posed the question, “if they had nothing to hide, then why the secret email account?”
Online, it didn’t take long for ‘Wayne Tracker’ to be meme’d to life, with a parody Twitter account that points to ExxonKnew.org—a website alleging the Texas oil giant paid anti-climate change think tanks to misdirect public opinion on the threat of global warming so that it could persist with its business activities.
I kept trying to tell Rex, but he wouldn’t listen… #ExxonKnew— Wayne Tracker (@WayneTracker) March 13, 2017