FOIL documents indicate that Larry Schwartz, Secretary to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and one of the governor’s closest advisors, has a conflict of interest due to his stock investments over his role in New York’s decision over whether to allow fracking. Documents also show that Robert Hallman (Deputy Secretary for Energy and Environment) has failed to make specific financial disclosures, raising the question of whether Mr. Hallman, is an impartial decision maker serving as the state’s highest gubernatorial staff member who has oversight over the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Mr. Schwartz has reported stock investments in several drilling companies with interests in shale gas including a company that he lists as “Mobile Exon” apparently a reference to Exxon Mobil, the nation’s largest natural gas producer with a direct interest in the outcome of New York’s debate over hydraulic fracturing due to its recent $41 billion purchase of XTO, a subsidiary with 43,000 acres of natural gas leases in New York. Documents show that Mr. Schwartz invested in Exxon Mobil for the first time in 2010, just after Exxon purchased XTO and acquired a direct interest in the outcome of New York’s debate over hydraulic fracturing. Recently-obtained documents from the Cuomo administration also show that XTO directly lobbied Mr. Schwartz last year about the state’s shale gas drilling plan when Mr. Schwartz may still have held Exxon stock (2012 financial disclosures do not come out until later this spring).
Mr. Schwartz has also reported financial interests in a firm he identified as “Williams Co,” apparently a reference to “The Williams Companies Inc.,” an oil and gas pipeline firm that has an interest in the Marcellus Shale formation, particularly given with the Williams Companies recent $750 million “Constitution Pipeline” that would go through the Southern Tier and connect with existing pipelines in Schoharie County.
Concerns about Robert Hallman stem from the fact that he has failed to adequately disclose his investments on his state financial disclosure forms. The vague terms that he has used on these forms to describe his investments such as “various corporate stock” without naming any specific stocks, prevent the public from assessing whether Mr. Hallman might also have a conflict of interest or at least the appearance of a conflict of interest.
The letter calling on District Attorney Soares to investigate, and then documents revealed through FOIL requests, follow: