Gov. Bill Walker has delegated his authority on the Point Thomson lawsuit to his lieutenant governor, while still leaving open the possibility of his involvement.
In a letter signed on Monday, Walker granted Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott the power to decide if Walker’s prior litigation against the state while an attorney in private practice should prevent him from participating in decisions about those same cases in his new role as governor.
As a partner at the Anchorage law firm Walker & Richards, Walker sued the state over a settlement with Exxon to develop Point Thomson, and the case became a point of contention during the campaign against incumbent Sean Parnell. Parnell argued that Walker’s lawsuit would halt development of natural gas reserves on the North Slope, while Walker responded that the agreement amounted that the agreement amounted to a closed-door deal by bypassing the legislature.
The letter comes just days after his former law partner and current attorney general, Craig Richards, relinquished his own authority to participate in such litigation in more specific terms.
On Friday, Richards wrote that his chief assistant attorney general, Martin Schultz, would take on those cases until his “former clients no longer have financial obligations” to him. In addition to the Point Thomson case, Richards wrote he would recuse himself from a number of municipal property tax proceedings concerning the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.
Walker and Richards sold their law firm shortly after the election to attorney Robin Brena, who chaired the Walker transition team’s oil and gas committee.