10 Things You Need to Know About Texan Rex Tillerson, Trump's Nominee for Secretary of State

WASHINGTON -- He’s never worked in the public sector, and most Americans don’t know his name. But Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, who lives in Irving, could soon be the nation’s top diplomat.President-elect Donald Trump named Tillerson as his nominee for secretary of state early Tuesday morning, calling Tillerson "one of the truly great business leaders of the world." Tillerson was also honored with Russia’s Order of Friendship three years ago, and has close ties to Russian leader Vladimir Putin. He may face a contentious confirmation battle in the Senate. In the coming weeks, here’s what you’ll need to know. Tillerson, 64, is a true Texan. Born in Wichita Falls, he earned a degree in civil engineering from the University of Texas at Austin in 1975. He now lives in Irving, where Exxon’s corporate headquarters are based, with his wife, Renda St. Clair. After graduating from UT, Tillerson went straight to work for Exxon, where he started his career as a production engineer. In 2006, he was named chairman and chief executive. It’s the only company he’s ever worked for. Tillerson’s long track record with a single company is unusual for a secretary of state. If confirmed, he’ll be the first secretary of state in modern history with no public sector experience. During his time at Exxon, Tillerson worked on international deals across the globe. For a time, he was in charge of the company’s oil fields in Russia and the Caspian sea. After global warming made drilling in the Arctic Sea more viable, he oversaw a major deal between Exxon and the state-owned Russian oil company, Rosneft, to explore the area -- but U.S. sanctions against Russia put the partnership on hold in 2014. If those sanctions are lifted, stock in Exxon would likely rise. Two years after Tillerson made the agreement with Rosneft, the Kremlin awarded him Russia’s Order of Friendship, given to foreign citizens whose work helps strengthen “international friendship and cooperation” for the betterment of Russian citizens. Tillerson has also spent extensive time with Putin, and the two men are reported to have a strong relationship. Tillerson’s Russian ties have already attracted criticism from senators in both parties. Earlier this week, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted that “being a ‘friend of Vladimir’ is not an attribute I am hoping for” from a secretary of state. “The next secretary of state must be someone who views the world with moral clarity, [and] is free of potential conflicts of interest,” Rubio said later in a statement. The CEO also has high-profile supporters in Congress, including majority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell and Texas Sen. John Cornyn. McConnell said he looked forward to supporting Tillerson’s nomination, while Cornyn said he had “long valued Rex’s insight.” Under Tillerson’s leadership, Exxon has come to acknowledge the link between greenhouse gas emissions and the warming climate. The company now publicly supports finding solutions to climate change. Tillerson is also a lifelong supporter of the Boy Scouts of America. He served as national president of the organization from 2010 to 2012, and he himself is an Eagle Scout. The energy CEO originally supported former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for president.  Continue reading...

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