Legislative lease lawsuit shows lawmaker emailed developer

  • Sunday, November 1, 2015 10:41pm
  • News

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An attorney is using emails between a lawmaker and developer in his case against the Legislature’s $4 million lease on renovated Anchorage office space.

Emails show the lawmaker who the “Taj Mahawker” is named for used his personal email account to communicate with the developer on making the lease comply with state law.

Anchorage Republican Rep. Mike Hawker declined to comment on the pending litigation.

Attorney Jim Gottstein filed his lawsuit over the legality of the no-bid lease extension and damage he says was caused to a building he owns during the Legislative office’s renovation.

“The project was obviously illegal from the very beginning,” he said.

Jeffrey Robinson is an attorney for the developers. He said in a statement that Gottstein should be barred from trying to “shamelessly (and publicly) mischaracterize the facts” in the case.

“To selectively distribute and mischaracterize information, including the emails Mr. Gottstein routinely publishes, has all the appearance of a partisan political agenda, but does nothing to contribute to an honest resolution of a legal dispute,” the statement said.

Hawker’s emails to Pfeffer were included in 8,000 pages provided to Gottstein during the lawsuit’s discovery phase.

Gottstein is using the documents to challenge an attempt to block his punitive damages claim and to argue for a whistleblower award if the lease is invalidated.

Court filings from the company and Legislature say Gottstein has “literally no legal support for this novel claim.”

The whistleblower fee could be as much as $2 million.

What had been a $680,000 lease jumped to $4 million after the renovation. Court documents show Hawker emailed developer Mark Pfeffer, saying he saw nothing the Legislature’s chief lawyer, Doug Gardner, or another state official “can do now to derail this.”

In response to emails related to Gardner’s concerns, Hawker said, “Crap. I need to get back and deal with him again. Double crap. I hate lawyers.”

Regarding revisions to the draft lease, Hawker emailed,

“I apologize for the obstructionist on my side of the table.”

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