Senate Democrats

Democratic Senators Press ExxonMobile on Ethical Hiring Practices

Washington, DC - Today, Democratic Leader Harry Reid, Senator Frank Lautenberg, and Senator Maria Cantwell sent a letter to Lee Raymond, Chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil Corporation, further pressing the executive for answers on why the company is willing to hire someone known to have engaged in the editing of scientific reports for political gain. Democratic Senators were appalled to learn that Philip Cooney, a top environment official for the Bush administration, edited scientifically verified reports on climate change in order to downplay their significance.

In the letter, the Senators write that they hope that Exxon was just as appalled to find out that Philip Cooney “significantly altered the scientific conclusions of at least two studies.” The Senators have also requested all copies of records and communications between Mr. Cooney and Exxon’s current and former employees, to prove that they were not involved in the alteration of these reports.

The text of the letter is pasted below:

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July 22, 2005

Mr. Lee Raymond
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
ExxonMobil Corporation
5959 Las Colinas Boulevard
Irving, Texas 75093-2298

Dear Mr. Raymond:

Thank you for your response to our letter.

In your correspondence you make it known that “the policy of Exxon Mobil is one of strict observance of all laws applicable to our business. But our policy does not stop there. Even where the law is permissive, our Standards of Business Conduct require we choose the course of highest integrity.”

In choosing the “course of highest integrity” we assumed you were as appalled as we were to find out Philip Cooney, significantly altered the scientific conclusions of at least two studies. The reports Mr. Cooney altered were:

U.S. Climate Change Science Program. 2002. Our Changing Planet: The Fiscal Year 2003 U.S. Global Change Research Program. Online at http://www.climatescience.gov

U.S. Climate Change Science Program. 2003. Strategic Plan for the U.S. Climate Change Science Program. Online at http://www.climatescience.gov.

Furthermore since the altered reports were required by law (The U.S. Global Change Research Act of 1990, 15 U.S.C. § 2921 et seq.[1]), Mr. Cooney’s actions may have violated two laws: 18 U.S.C. § 1505, Obstruction of Proceedings before Departments, Agencies, and Committees[2] and 18 U.S.C. § 1001, Statements or Entries Generally.[3]

We are sure you would agree that since ExxonMobil wishes to maintain its “reputation for scrupulous” business practices. In order to protect this reputation I would ask Exxon Mobil provide copies of records (memoranda, minutes, telephone logs, telephone message slips, electronic messages, calendars, press releases, notes, opinions, documents, analyses, briefing materials, talking points, letters, reports, studies, cover sheets, routing cover sheets) and communications between Mr. Cooney and current or former employees of Exxon Mobil regarding climate change in order to demonstrate your company played no role in Mr. Cooney’s alteration of these reports.

We once again look forward to your timely response.

Sincerely,

HARRY REID

MARIA CANTWELL

FRANK LAUTENBERG

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[1] These reports fit the definition of the term “official proceeding” as defined in 18 U.S.C. § 1515 (a)(1)(B) and (C): “a proceeding before Congress” and “a proceeding before a government agency that is authorized by law.”

[2] That law reads in pertinent part:

Whoever corruptly… influences, obstructs, or impedes or endeavors to influence, obstruct, or impede the due and proper administration of the law under which any pending proceeding is being had before any department or agency of the United States, or the due and proper exercise of the power of inquiry under which any inquiry or investigation is being had by either House, or any committee of either House or any joint committee of the Congress–

Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

[3] That law reads in pertinent part:

(a) Except as otherwise provided in this section, whoever, in any matter within the jurisdiction of the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Government of the United States, knowingly and willfully…

(3) makes or uses any false writing or document knowing the same to contain any materially false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or entry;

shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.

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