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Robin Brena fabricated a affluence as an advocate angry Alaska’s bigger oil companies. But for about three decades, he abundantly backward abroad from politics, advance money in his bartering absolute acreage business instead.

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Then, in 2013, the Legislature anesthetized an industry-supported carbon of Alaska’s oil tax laws – with advice from the votes of two senators active by ConocoPhillips.

A year later, opponents of the admeasurement approved to abolition the bill at the polls, through a referendum. But they absent the accessible vote to a multi-million dollar, industry-backed campaign.

Brena, 64, accurate the abolition accomplishment and aback again has donated hundreds of bags of dollars to agreeing political candidates, in hopes they would access taxes on the industry.

But that accomplishment has so far bootless to aftermath a tax overhaul. And a balked Brena is now chairing a citizens action to accession oil taxes — and he’s additionally the effort’s top funder, accidental added than $100,000 so far.

“All you charge for article bad to appear is the bodies that apperceive bigger abide silent,” Brena said in an account at his law office, central a architecture endemic by his absolute acreage firm. “I’m an Alaskan aboriginal and foremost, and I’m activity to angle up for Alaska. And I appetite to be abiding that Alaska gets a fair accord for their oil.”

The action targets some of Alaska’s oldest and bigger oil fields. And it would burden what Brena’s ancillary estimates as an added $1 billion in taxes on the state’s bigger producers: BP, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil.

Brena has fabricated a career of aggressive those aforementioned companies in court.

In some of those cases, Brena represented the public, alive for Alaska municipalities that were gluttonous added acreage tax acquirement from the companies, which are the primary owners of the trans-Alaska pipeline.

But in added cases, Brena’s audience were absolutely oil companies. Among them was Tesoro, the large, absolute oil refiner that was adjoin fees the activity owners answerable to address awkward from the North Slope to the anchorage of Valdez, 800 afar away.

Between aloof those two areas of work, Brena won hundreds of millions of dollars from the buyer companies for his clients. And his acknowledged victories, according to friends, were additionally account millions of dollars to Brena himself.

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Now, Brena is demography that money and putting it into a action adjoin those aforementioned oil companies, this time at the election box.

Brena argues that Alaskans accept been accepting industry circuit aback the 2013 carbon of accompaniment oil tax law, and with added advice from his ancillary in this year’s action debate, he’s assertive voters will accomplish a altered choice.

“I accept Alaskans don’t apperceive all the capacity perhaps, because they can’t be known,” Brena said. “Because we’re advised like mushrooms – you know, we’re kept in a aphotic room, and we’re fed cow manure.”

Brena’s assignment has won him acclaim from his clients, but it has not admired him to the above players in Alaska’s oil industry.

Officials and attorneys currently alive with those companies did not appetite to allege about about him. But Dick Rabinow, a above admiral of ExxonMobil’s activity company, declared Brena as a assiduous arrow in the industry’s side.

“It was pain, to accord with him,” Rabinow, who’s retired from the activity company, said in a buzz account from Houston.

Rabinow didn’t assignment with Brena directly. But he was accustomed with his work, which anon afflicted ExxonMobil and the added companies.

The acknowledged fights in Alaska that Brena was complex in continued over abounding years and an arrangement of cases, which Rabinow said was altered from the blow of the country. Arrangements amid companies and landowners in the Lower 48 were added stable, Rabinow said.

In Alaska, “you anticipate you’ve spent a lot of time and money to assignment article out,” Rabinow said. “And abutting year and the year afterwards and the year after, bodies are advancing aback at you. It’s actual frustrating, and it costs money.”

Brena, for his part, relished the befalling to booty on the above oil companies and their teams of attorneys in court. Abounding of the industry attorneys he litigated adjoin were specialists from the Lower 48, and he declared his acquaintance as like “a acreage boy accustomed the adventitious to attempt in the NBA.”

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Brena grew up in the tiny Southeast Alaska gold blitz boondocks of Skagway, area his ancestor ran a bar alleged the Pack Train Inn.

His ancestor died aback Brena was 12, and Brena formed on the White Pass & Yukon Railway to abutment his family, he said. The railroad was one of the town’s above industries, affective ore from mines in Canada to Skagway’s port.

“I started aback I was 17, in aerial school, alive as a attendant in the roundhouse,” he said. “If there’s a job on the railroad, I’ve done it.”

After aerial school, abounding of Brena’s accompany formed architecture on Alaska’s oil pipeline. Brena went to college, again spent a decade accumulating alum degrees: a master’s of business and finance, a law amount and a master’s of absolute acreage and accounts law.

Then he started assignment as an advocate aback in Alaska, and by the mid-1980s was alive on complicated oil and gas litigation.

Ultimately, Brena got complex in a alternation of big cases adjoin Alaska’s above oil companies, with affairs afore the Regulatory Commission of Alaska, accompaniment courts and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

As an advocate for the Fairbanks North Star Borough and the City of Valdez, Brena argued that the amount of the pipeline, for acreage tax purposes, was billions of dollars added than its owners asserted. In one of a set of cases, a Superior Cloister adjudicator set the pipeline’s amount at $10 billion, added than 10 times the $850 actor that the companies had asserted. The Alaska Supreme Cloister upheld the ruling.

In addition set of cases, alive for Tesoro, Brena auspiciously argued that the pipeline’s owners had answerable “unjust, unreasonable” ante to address oil from the North Slope to Valdez.

“When it comes to activity amount cases, there’s apparently not a bigger advocate on the planet than Robin Brena,” said Alaska Advocate General Kevin Clarkson, a above law accomplice of Brena’s. “The owners of the activity — those companies assassin the best they could find, beyond the country, and they brought them to Alaska to appeal adjoin Robin Brena. And he exhausted them every time.”

Those cases helped Brena body his absolute acreage company, RSD Properties. The “R” is for Robin; the “S” and “D” are for the names of his children. All three belletrist are anchored to his law offices, as able-bodied as the city Anchorage architecture that houses the oil tax initiative’s headquarters.

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RSD owns nine appointment barrio in Anchorage, and it’s now developing what’s alleged a “co-working” business, a blazon of aggregate workspace.

Over the accomplished decade, though, Brena has additionally become added complex in Alaska politics.

He’s contributed almost $500,000 to state-level candidates and causes aback 2012, according to accessible records. He was a above banking adherent of above absolute Gov. Bill Walker. And afterwards Walker, additionally an attorney, was adopted governor in 2014, Brena bought Walker’s law firm.

Last year, afterwards accident his re-election bid, Walker became a accomplice at Brena’s firm.

Brena and his accompany call the 2013 access of Senate Bill 21 – the aftermost above carbon of Alaska’s oil tax administration – as a galvanizing moment. The bill anesthetized the Legislature with votes from Republican accompaniment Sens. Peter Micciche of Soldotna and Kevin Meyer of Anchorage, both of whom formed for ConocoPhillips. Meyer is now abettor governor.

Brena calls the legislation a “giveaway,” and he said he was decidedly balked by the millions of dollars that oil companies spent angry the abolition campaign. The state’s accepted oil tax structure, he argues, doesn’t accompany in abundant money to sustain what he calls a “modern Alaska.”

Nonetheless, Brena says he’s pro-oil and pro-development, arguing that his assignment for Tesoro additional the amount of Alaska’s petroleum by abbreviation the fees answerable by the activity owners for the addition of oil.

Critics altercate that Brena’s attack ignores the downsides of college taxes. Jason Grenn, a above Anchorage absolute representative, said the oil tax action overlooks the accident of lower oil aggregation investment, beneath oil assembly and beneath jobs.

“It’s painting a absolutely abundant picture,” Grenn said. “But in six or seven years, if we accept added job loss, added acreage taxes gone, that will aching worse than any assets that will be brought through.”

Brena declared himself as a balance to those arguments, which he’s afraid will contrarily go unchallenged.

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He wouldn’t say absolutely how abundant he’ll ultimately absorb on the initiative, in the face of what will acceptable be a multi-million dollar action attack from the oil industry. Instead, he offered a hint: “My claimed charge to Alaskans is I’m activity to do aggregate I can to accord you a best about your own future.”

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