Legislative lease lawsuit shows lawmaker emailed developer

ANCHORAGE — 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 told the Alaska Dispatch News this week.

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.”

More in News

The Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Encore docks in Juneau in October of 2022. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Ships in port for t​​he Week of April 22

Here’s what to expect this week.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Sunday, April 21, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

The “Newtok Mothers” assembled as a panel at the Arctic Encounter Symposium on April 11 discuss the progress and challenges as village residents move from the eroding and thawing old site to a new village site called Mertarvik. Photographs showing deteriorating conditions in Newtok are displayed on a screen as the women speak at the event, held at Anchorage’s Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Relocation of eroding Alaska Native village seen as a test case for other threatened communities

Newtok-to-Mertarvik transformation has been decades in the making.

Bailey Woolfstead, right, and her companion Garrett Dunbar examine the selection of ceramic and wood dishes on display at the annual Empty Bowls fundraiser on behalf of the Glory Hall at Centennial Hall on Sunday. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Empty Bowls provides a full helping of fundraising for the Glory Hall

Annual soup event returns to Centennial Hall as need for homeless shelter’s services keeps growing.

Juneau Mayor Beth Weldon and her husband Greg. (Photo courtesy of the City and Borough of Juneau)
Greg Weldon, husband of Juneau Mayor Beth Weldon, killed in motorcycle accident Sunday morning

Accident occurred in Arizona while auto parts store co-owner was on road trip with friend

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Saturday, April 20, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Friday, April 19, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire file photo)
Police calls for Thursday, April 18, 2024

This report contains public information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Delegates offer prayers during the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska’s 89th Annual Tribal Assembly on Thursday at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. (Muriel Reid / Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska)
Tribal Assembly declares crisis with fentanyl and other deadly drugs its highest priority

Delegates at 89th annual event also expand foster program, accept Portland as new tribal community.

Most Read