02.01.17

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Announces She Will Oppose the Confirmation of Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin released the following statement announcing she will oppose Rex Tillerson’s confirmation as Secretary of State:

“Last Congress, I introduced legislation to slow the revolving door and ensure that our public servants are working for the public interest, not their former – or future – employers. I was inspired to introduce this legislation when I saw several Obama Administration appointees receive multimillion-dollar bonuses for leaving their jobs and joining the government. These ‘government service golden parachutes,’ as they’re known, demonstrate how valuable some companies believe it is to have friends in high places. Rex Tillerson, the President’s nominee to serve as Secretary of State, received a $180 million payout from Exxon Mobil that he would have had to forfeit had he taken a job elsewhere. What’s more, reports indicate that the deal he struck allows him to defer paying $71 million in taxes.  It’s hard to imagine that our nation’s top diplomat will forget such a favor.

“I remain as opposed to this practice under the Trump Administration as I was during the Obama Administration. Wisconsin families can’t afford to have corporate insiders running our government to rig the rules on behalf of their corporate clients. That is why I reintroduced the Financial Services Conflict of Interest Act this week to ensure that our government is truly of the people, by the people, and for the people. To ensure that President Trump’s cabinet officials are working in the national interest instead of their own interests. To ensure that they are working for their current employers—the American people—instead of their former employers. In the case of Mr. Tillerson, these questions of influence, favoritism, and priorities is particularly troubling. It is troubling because during his tenure leading Exxon, Mr. Tillerson showed disregard, if not outright contempt at times, for putting U.S. policy first. Whether in the Middle East, Africa, or Russia, Exxon’s bottom line was his overriding priority. Now with $180 million of Exxon’s money in his pocket and after 40 years with the company, should we take it on faith that his priorities will suddenly change? Should we blindly accept that this corporate payout deal won’t ever influence his decision-making in government? My legislation would outlaw this $180 million payout and ensure Rex Tillerson and other government leaders are working on behalf of the American people, not special interests. 

“This past Saturday, President Trump called Vladimir Putin to discuss a more cozy relationship with Russia.  The same Vladimir Putin who illegally invaded Ukraine and actively seeks to divide and destroy NATO, our most important security alliance. The same Vladimir Putin who is responsible for directing cyberattacks meant to influence and undermine our elections and democratic process. The same Vladimir Putin who fights alongside the murderous Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and is responsible for war crimes—indiscriminately bombing innocent civilians in Aleppo.  The same Vladimir Putin who gave Rex Tillerson the Order of Friendship following his business dealings in Russia.  We need a Secretary of State who understands the threat posed by nations like Russia, not someone who is cozy with Vladimir Putin. We need a nominee with experience in foreign affairs and foreign policy, not a billionaire oil tycoon who has spent his career fighting to ensure government policies help the oil industry.

“Rex Tillerson is not this nominee.  And for all of these reasons, I oppose the nomination of Rex Tillerson to serve as Secretary of State.”