There are two things on trump’s agenda today. The first is to sign an executive order that will repeal a regulation that was designed to keep shady contractors from benefiting from tax dollars. The rule said that companies with an egregious record of violating wage and safety laws would lose their government contracts if they didn’t come into compliance. What that means is that if a contractor stole wages through shady payroll practices, or had too many safety violations, they could lose their contract.
But, Republicans said t was too punitive and a “job killer”. Yeah, everyone wants to work for a contractor that does not adhere to safety rules and is willing to steal their workers pay for themselves.
Heidi Shierholz, a labor policy expert at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, said in a statement.
When President Trump has a chance to stand with workers, he chooses not to. By blocking this rule, the president and congressional Republicans will ensure that taxpayers will continue to support contractors with a history of wage theft and health and safety violations.
The other thing he has on his agenda is to sign another executive order to roll back the Clean Power Plant regulation. This could have a major impact on our environment in a negative way by allowing more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. But, then again, who needs clean air or even a climate for that matter. Remember, the only thing that counts to this administration is money. To hell with the people.
What is not on his agenda, and probably should be, is a troubling problem over at the State Department. This problem isn’t about the State Department but rather about the Secretary of State. Another possible scandal is brewing there, and it could actually put the Secretary of State in jail if he isn’t careful.
This scandal goes back to his day at Exxon/Mobile and a very shady character named Wayne Tracker. It begins decades ago when Exxon/Mobile scientists concluded that carbon dioxide emissions, an inevitable byproduct of burning fossil fuels, are causing climate change. Yet the company buried those findings and instead funded pseudo-scientific studies purporting to deny or downplay legitimate science.
The problem is that the New York States Attorney General’s office considers this as a possible massive financial fraud. It has been investigating this problem for quite some time now.
It kind of works like this. Publicly traded companies like Exxon are required to make annual reports on their financial condition to the federal Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC. Federal law requires their CEOs to personally certify that those reports do not contain “any untrue statement of a material fact.” Just as importantly, they must also swear that the reports don’t “omit to state a material fact” relevant to the company’s financial health.
It appears that Exxon/Mobile failed to disclose the full truth on its own scientific research in their SEC filings. In its 2015 statement, the last one certified personally by Tillerson, the company reported net property, plant and equipment – which includes its oil reserves – valued at about $252 billion. That constituted almost 75 percent of its total assets of $337 billion.
Here is the problem. If ecology friendly governments or action groups succeed in cutting oil production by enforcing more clean air laws, that oil in the ground would lose value. If it resulted in a large drop in the valuation of the company’s assets that could lead to a massive “impairment charge,” potentially driving the company into the red.
Hmmm. The document does not mention this concern. And, in a 2014 report that claimed to address shareholder concerns about climate risk, the company dismissed the possibility of deep cuts in carbon emissions as “highly unlikely.”
This is potentially misinformation to investors. And, it isn’t just billionaires and hedge fund managers that would be hurt. A lot of teachers, fire fighters, police officers, and other retirement plans for individuals could also be hurt, and badly.
You may be asking how Wayne Tracker fits into all of this. Well Wayne Tracker is an alias email account set up by Exxon/Mobile for non other than Rex Tillerson. The State of New York suspects it was used by Tillerson to discuss climate change science research to other executive members of Exxon/Mobile in order to conceal the information.
In a subpoena, the company was required to turn over all internal communications about climate risk. However, it failed to turn over the bulk of Wayne Tracker’s emails. The company responded with a long letter posturing their position, but the gist of it was its “technological processes [for finding materials responsive to the subpoena] did not automatically extend to the secondary email account.”
As you might imagine, the judge was not impressed and ordered these emails to be handed over by March 31. But, here is the rub. If it shows in these emails that Tillerson privately acknowledged larger climate risks to the company’s business than what was disclosed in SEC filings, he could face criminal penalties under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.
If you think he would be immune because of his position, you are wrong. This possible criminal act took place before he took office. Plus, consider if this information had come out during his confirmation hearing. It is possible he would never have been confirmed in the first place.
If all of this plays out, then our Secretary of State could find himself in court defending himself in a major fraud case. We are not talking about peanuts here. We are talking about billions of dollars in investments from people who trusted Tillerson to tell them the truth.
It appears that Tillerson was hiding the truth, and lying to the SEC as well. You may remember this case a little. A couple of years ago, members of the Republican Caucus in the House tried to usurp the State of New York and force a close to this investigation. At the time, these Republicans were worried about Exxon/Mobile’s own scientific research in how bad emissions are to the environment might get out. Unfortunately, they ignored the bigger picture here about the crime of fraud.
The thing you need to realize is this is what the trump administration is doing to our country. He claims to be for the “little guy” yet does away with a regulation to protect that protects them from reckless contractors who also may be stealing the worker’s wages.
He named the most anti-environment person on the planet to head up the agency that is supposed to protect the environment. Then he repeals a clean air regulation designed to make t easier for us to breath and to protect our climate.
He has named most of the executives from Goldman Sachs which was a major contributor to the 2008 economic melt-down to head up our finance departments. Goldman has paid out billions in fines because of their actions, all of which took place while these executives were running the company.
Now, it turns out that his Secretary of State may be a crook. Someone who deliberately hid scientific research from his own scientists in order to defraud the public into investing into his company. Is it any wonder that the only thing his State Department has done so far is approve the Keystone XL pipeline?
You know the pipeline that will allow a private foreign corporation to use eminent domain to steal Americans land for their pipeline route. And the pipeline that will be built with German Steel rather than American Steel as our beloved leader promised. And, pipe oil across the U.S. that will not wind up in our markets but will be shipped to China after is has been refined.
Our beloved leader promised to stand up for the working guy. He has failed. He promised to repeal and replace the ACA with something “great”. He has failed. He has promised to create jobs. He has failed. He promised to surround himself with quailed, intelligent, and honest people. He has failed.
If you want to “drain a swamp” you need to place the suction hose of the sump pump into the swamp. In this case, trump has put the suction hose of the pump into the Potomac River and is flooding the swamp.
But, what do you expect from an incompetent buffoon. The timing of the Tillerson upcoming scandal could have been better. It could have come out before he was confirmed. But, it is not too late to make him pay for defrauding his investors if that turns out to be the case. I am just wondering what his alias email account at the State Department is today. Once you start hiding things, it becomes common practice so it would be unreasonable to believe he isn’t hiding things at State.
If you are planning a visit to Washington this year, may I suggest you take along a pair of wading boots. You will probably need them to wade through the overflowing swamp.
And, the shirts keep marching along.