A week after legislators approved spending more than $157 million to buy out TransCanada Corp. in the state’s project for a natural gas pipeline (AKLNG), Gov. Bill Walker said he wants new leadership on the project.

The state has been paying South Carolina attorney Rigdon Boykin $120,000 a month for the past six months. He was paid $100,000 for the month of November. Walker has said Boykin was worth the money because of his valuable expertise.

Throughout a 13-day special session that ended last week, lawmakers questioned the governor’s administration about Boykin’s role and how he fit into leadership on the project. The Walker administration responded that the governor was in charge, and that he had made Boykin the lead negotiator on the project.

The Alaska Gasline Development Corporation said Boykin is now back at home in South Carolina on a break. When asked about his absence, the governor’s office released the following statement, saying, “At this point, our recommendation to AGDC will be to utilize Rigdon Boykin in a different capacity going forward.”

Rigdon Boykin / courtesy AGDC

Rigdon Boykin / courtesy AGDC

The governor’s office wouldn’t say why the governor is making the recommendation, in what capacity he wants Boykin to work on the project moving forward or who could replace him as lead negotiator. It said questions regarding Boykin or his contract should be directed to AGDC.

Miles Baker, vice president of External Affairs and Government Relations with AGDC, wasn’t aware of the governor’s recommendation for Boykin at Thursday’s AGDC board meeting. Baker said Boykin’s contract is set to end Dec. 31, 2015. He said that contract will now have to be reconsidered before Dec. 1.

When asked who could take over the work that Boykin has been doing in coordinating AGDC and other state agencies on the project, Baker said it could be Attorney General Craig Richards, but that the decision will be up to the governor.

House Speaker Mike Chenault and other legislators said they’re nervous that these new changes in leadership could jeopardize the project’s stability.

“It raises flags whenever we continue to change our direction, and who the people are that are representing us. To me it sends a bad message to our partners that we’re not sure exactly what we’re doing,” Chenault said.

Sen. Cathy Giessel, chair of the Senate Resources Committee, said she was surprised by the governor’s statement.

“I thought yesterday I’d figured out who’s in charge and now I’m back to asking the question, ‘Who’s in charge?'” Giessel said.

When reached by phone, Boykin declined to comment.