Evangelical leader Tony Perkins is slamming President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of state, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, claiming he would advocate for “the leftist social policy of the Obama years.”
Perkins, who leads conservative Christian lobbying nonprofit the Family Research Council, took aim at Tillerson’s ties to the Boy Scouts of America and donations by ExxonMobil to Planned Parenthood, which the company said in a statement today are “based entirely on employees’ and retirees’ support for these organizations and does not reflect ExxonMobil’s philanthropic priorities or support for community causes.”
Perkins wrote in a blog post published Monday, “To hear that Donald Trump may be appointing a man who not only led the charge to open the Boy Scouts to gay troop leaders but whose company directly gives to Planned Parenthood is upsetting, at best. FRC knows Tillerson all too well, having worked for years to put the brakes on his reckless agenda for a scouting organization that was already dealing with staggering numbers of sexual abuse cases.”
Tillerson, a former Eagle Scout and a lifelong supporter of the Boy Scouts, was the president of the organization from 2010 to 2012 and served on the executive board in 2013 while successfully advocating to lift the group’s ban on gay scouts that year and, later, on gay troop leaders.
The Boy Scouts of America issued a statement today congratulating Tillerson, saying that as a “long-standing, valued member of the Boy Scouts of America, Mr. Tillerson continues to contribute to the scouting movement as a member of the National Executive Board” and that he has upheld the “long-standing traditions of character and good citizenship that are essential to scouting’s mission.”
Planned Parenthood Global took a different view, saying in a statement from Executive Director Latanya Mapp Frett, “Planned Parenthood is alarmed to see the nomination of Rex Tillerson, who has an international track record of putting corporate profit over the fundamental rights of people.”
Perkins supported Trump’s run for president and continued to back him even after the October release of a 2005 “Access Hollywood” recording in which Trump made lewd comments about women.
“While Rex Tillerson is a respected businessman, I have serious concerns about his nomination,” said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and could, like any other Republican on the 19-member panel, join with its nine Democrats to derail the nomination.
Rubio says he will give Tillerson a “full and fair” hearing, but his concerns echo those of other Republicans in the upper chamber, like Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and John McCain of Arizona, who are requesting more information about Tillerson’s dealings with the Kremlin while CEO of ExxonMobil and his business relationship with Putin.