WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement announcing his opposition to Rex Tillerson’s nomination for Secretary of State. Mr. Tillerson testified before the Committee on Wednesday.
“Rex Tillerson’s primary qualification to be Secretary of State is his leadership of a multinational oil and gas company. But his record at ExxonMobil is disturbing.
“Mr. Tillerson said ‘moral clarity’ is a key to US foreign policy and I agree. But during Mr. Tillerson’s time in the senior management of ExxonMobil, the company engaged in a pattern of activities that undermine any claim he can make to moral clarity.
“Exxon used a subsidiary to circumvent U.S. sanctions designed to pressure Iran to end its nuclear weapons program and state-sponsored terrorism.
“Exxon routed petroleum royalties into a bank account controlled personally by the corrupt dictator of Equatorial Guinea while the people of that nation languish in oppressive poverty.
“Exxon lobbied extensively against sanctions on Russia that were designed to punish Russia for the invasion of Ukraine. Mr. Tillerson refused to acknowledge his company’s efforts to thwart sanctions on Russia, even though that lobbying is heavily documented in the news accounts and official Exxon filings.
“Mr. Tillerson wouldn’t even condemn the Philippines President’s extrajudicial murders of thousands or say that Saudi Arabia abuses human rights.
“And while Mr. Tillerson did acknowledge that global warming is a problem, and that America should have a ‘seat at the table,’ he didn’t see a compelling case for leadership in tackling this major threat to our planet.
“Finding loopholes to avoid technically breaking laws while undermining their intent destroys moral clarity. Enriching despots and tyrants destroys moral clarity. Helping America’s enemies in pursuit of profit destroys moral clarity. So does refusing to call out evil when you see it.
“The bottom line is that four decades at ExxonMobil have not prepared Rex Tillerson to be our nation’s top diplomat. His testimony failed to demonstrate the broad knowledge and moral compass desperately needed for American leadership in the world. I cannot support his nomination.”