Former (yay) Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

The LGBT community was at odds with Rex Tillerson during his entire term as CEO of ExxonMobil. Throughout his reign, he steadfastly refused to extend partner benefits such as health insurance to same-sex spouses of his employees. At one meeting with members of the community, he admitted it had nothing to do with money. No one was going to tell him what to do.

Each year, the New York pension fund, the largest owner of ExxonMobil stock, along with other large owners including California’s pension fund, issued a shareholder initiative to extend partner benefits. Each year ExxonMobil campaigned against it. One year the company had to be sued to force the issue onto its proxy ballot. Each year it failed.

The shareholder meeting is held each year at the Morton Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas. One year, I met with a representative of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman who was attending to vote New York’s shares in favor of same-sex partner benefits.

To enter the building, I walked through a maze of metal barriers and showed my press credentials. I was met by a police officer and escorted from there to the metal detector. From there, I was escorted by a different police officer downstairs to the media room. Press was guarded by several officers. When I got up to get a cup of coffee, immediately outside the media room, an officer accompanied me. When I got up to go to the men’s room, right next door to the media room, an officer followed me in.

After the meeting, when I met Schneiderman’s representative in the lobby, we noticed someone standing directly behind us, so we changed benches and were followed. I suggested we walk over to the Winspear to talk. We were followed to the exit door and even outside the building, but we finally found a place to talk.

Tillerson’s level of paranoia was amazing. Almost as many police officers filled the Meyerson each year as there were shareholders. And while vigilance and an amount of skepticism is a good thing in a secretary of state, that level of paranoia isn’t. ExxonMobil treats its own shareholders as suspects and the oil industry media — I was one of the very few reporters in the Meyerson’s media room who wasn’t an expert in the oil and gas industry, but there to cover one shareholder initiative.

Tillerson was a paranoid prick. He’s probably out because he suspected Russian collusion — in Trump’s campaign, in Trump’s decisions as president, in Trump’s mixing of business and government.

So now Tillerson is gone and he’s being replaced by, um, the director of the CIA. Now, while paranoia isn’t a quality I’d look for in a secretary of state, it IS something I’d expect in the head of our spy agency. I really have no particular opinion of Mike Pompeo and don’t know much about him. Hopefully, he does a great job in his new position.

— David Taffet