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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Environmentalists try to pressure Rubio to reject Rex Tillerson



Hoping to thwart the confirmation of Rex Tillerson, Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, environmental activists are staging protests across the country, including one this afternoon at Sen. Marco Rubio’s office in Tampa.

“Rex Tillerson’s role as former CEO of ExxonMobil is a clear conflict of interest should he be confirmed as Secretary of State, particularly with his strong business ties in Russia and the role that he would play in global politics,” reads a release from 350 Tampa Bay, which noted members of Greenpeace, Sierra Club and Organize Now will be involved in the 3 p.m. event.

Rubio has raised concerns about Tillerson but not on environmental grounds. He has cited the former ExxonMobil CEO's ties to Vladimir Putin. "While Rex Tillerson is a respected businessman, I have serious concerns about his nomination," Rubio said in a statement last month.

"The next secretary of state must be someone who views the world with moral clarity, is free of potential conflicts of interest, has a clear sense of America's interests, and will be a forceful advocate for America's foreign policy goals to the president, within the administration, and on the world stage. I look forward to learning more about his record and his views.‎ I will do my part to ensure he receives a full and fair but also thorough hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.”

Tillerson begins his confirmation hearings on Wednesday, including a stop before the Foreign Relations Committee, where Rubio’s vote will be widely watched. Rubio’s press office will not say whether Tillerson has reached out to the senator in advance.

Rubio has reportedly heard from former VP Dick Cheney, who is trying to shore up support for Tillerson.

Jeb Bush has praised Tillerson.

[Last modified: Monday, January 9, 2017 11:40am]


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