ExxonMobil Advisory Panel Member Sends Scathing Resignation Letter

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NEW YORK (CBS NEWS) – A member of ExxonMobil’s External Citizenship Advisory Panel wrote a scathing letter this week declaring her resignation from the panel advising the company that until recently was headed by newly sworn-in Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

In the letter, which was first reported by Motherboard on Thursday, Sarah Labowitz said she is “particularly concerned about the company’s targeted attack on respected civil society organizations through the courts.”

Just last week, Irving-based ExxonMobil filed another brief in a federal Texas court “advancing an argument that everyday aspects of civil society advocacy with public officials should be treated as an illegal conspiracy,” said Labowitz, a corporate social responsibility expert and co-director of the Center for Business and Human Rights at the NYU Stern School of Business.

“The brief argues that having a private meeting, conducting a workshop, publishing a report, or advocating that a public official take action are all elements of what you deem an illegal ‘conspiracy,’” she said in the Monday letter, addressed to Ben Soraci, the president of ExxonMobil Foundation and general manager of Public and Government Affairs at ExxonMobil.

Sarah Labowitz, Co-Director, NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights attends the 2016 Concordia Summit in New York City.  (credit: Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Concordia Summit)

Sarah Labowitz, Co-Director, NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights attends the 2016 Concordia Summit in New York City. (credit: Paul Morigi/Getty Images for Concordia Summit)

“Many companies face criticism and critique, but few respond with the kind of vehemence and aggressive attack strategy that Exxon has executed over the last year,” Labowitz said. “This approach is especially disappointing because there are much more effective and constructive ways to respond to such criticism.”

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