Alaska’s new Attorney General, Craig Richards, has delegated authority of certain cases that he was working on as a private attorney which might be at odds with the state’s interests. In a public notice, Richards said that Chief Assistant Attorney General Martin Schultz, who is with the Oil, Gas, and Mining section of the Department of Law, will now handle those cases, which, among other things, involve property tax assessments of the trans-Alaska pipeline and litigation involving Point Thomson.
Richards was a partner with Gov. Bill Walker before Walker won the governor’s race. Their firm, Walker & Richards, filed a lawsuit in 2012 challenging the Point Thomson settlement between the state and Exxon, claiming that the state acted unconstitutionally when it settled the long-disputed field without legislative approval. Both Walker and Richards have been highly critical of the settlement, as has Robin Brena, the lawyer who is buying the law firm of Walker & Richards. Walker said on the campaign trail that as governor, he would drop out of the suit, which is now in front of the Alaska Supreme Court. On Dec. 1, Walker filed a “Substitute Counsel” motion with the court. As of Saturday night, it was unknown who took over the case for the firm.
Here’s what Richards wrote, which went out as a public notice:
Before becoming attorney general I ended my private law practice, but I still expect to receive payments from some former clients for work I performed.
Some of that work was on matters that involved the State of Alaska, and my clients’ interests were different from the State’s interests in those matters.
Therefore, at least until my former clients no longer have financial obligations to me, I do not intend to take or withhold official action affecting matters that involve the State and in which I previously represented those clients.
I delegate to Chief Assistant Attorney General Martin Schultz my authority to take or withhold official action affecting those matters, which include
- appeals and other proceedings arising out of the Trans Alaska Pipeline System property tax assessments for the years 2007 through 2015;
- proceedings concerning application of Alaska’s taxation cap to the City of Valdez;
- proceedings concerning imposition of taxes on the Alyeska Valdez Marine Terminal and other property used to support operation of the Trans Alaska Pipeline System;
- the City of Valdez’s challenge to the jurisdiction of the State Assessment Review Board;
- the City of Valdez’s challenge concerning the taxability of vessels and other marine equipment under state and federal law;
- proceedings concerning the challenge to the Point Thomson settlement;
- any other matter that involves the State and in which I or Walker & Richards, LLC previously represented a client other than the State;
- and any matter substantially related to any of these matters.
I intend this delegation to remain in effect at least so long as I have a financial interest in any receivables of Walker & Richards, LLC.
I expect those interests to terminate no later than February 1, 2015.
This delegation will remain in effect, however, until I withdraw it.
December 26, 2014
Craig W. Richards