Thursday, March 26, 2009

Obama nominates Gov. Richardson's former chief counsel for solicitor at interior dept.

The White House says it plans to nominate Gov. Bill Richardson's former chief counsel to the post of solicitor in the U.S. Department of Interior. Hilary Tompkins served as chief counsel and deputy counsel in the governor's office from 2003 to 2008. She advised the governor on legislation, political appointments, executive orders and litigation as well as provided expertise in American Indian affairs. Tompkins managed the legal staff in the governor's office as well as the general counsels in over 20 state agencies. Before working for the state, she was an associate at a national law firm where her practice focused on water and environmental law. Tompkins, a Navajo, also has served as general counsel to several Indian tribes nationwide...AP

This is from a March 5th article at

President Barack Obama plans to name a Native woman to serve as the top legal official for the Interior Department, Secretary Ken Salazar said on Wednesday. Speaking to tribal leaders in Washington, D.C., Salazar said the expected nominee is a member of the Navajo Nation. He didn't mention her name but sources identified her as Hilary Tompkins, a prominent attorney from New Mexico. "We are just now in the process of getting her vetted," Salazar said at a summit held by the Council of Energy Resource Tribes. Salazar described Tompkins, who was adopted at birth, as someone Indian Country "can be very proud of." If nominated and confirmed as Solicitor General of the Interior, Tompkins would be making history as the first woman and the first Native American to serve in the post. Tompkins currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of New Mexico School of Law, where she is sharing her experience in tribal-state relations. It's an area she knows well, having served as chief counsel to Gov. Bill Richardson (D) from 2005 to 2008 and as his deputy counsel from 2003 to 2005. As the first Native American chief counsel, Tompkins helped Richardson hire and appoint a record number of Native Americans, both in his cabinet and in agencies, boards and commissions. She oversaw the elevation of the state's Indian agency to a secretarial position, the first in the nation, as the governor supported a record number of Indian bills in the New Mexico Legislature. Tompkins and the legal team also sought to extend their influence to other states by taking a pro-Indian stance in a controversial U.S. Supreme Court case. Shortly after taking office, Richardson filed a brief in Inyo County v. Bishop Paiute Tribe in defense of tribal rights. "It's something we're really proud of," Tompkins, whose name appeared on the brief, told High Country News in an April 2003 article. The move prompted other states to sign onto tribal-friendly briefs, a big shift since states have historically sided against tribal interests in Supreme Court cases...


Craig Manson said...


The article is incorrect in saying that Tompkins would the first woman Solicitor. That distinction belongs to my friend and former colleague, Sue Ellen Wooldridge, appointed by President Bush in 2004.

The Westerner said...


Thanks for takinq the time to give us the correct info.

I should have remembered that myself, and thanks for your work at FWP.