An Oklahoma state regent for higher education has resigned after state elected officials expressed concerns about his involvement in opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson’s appeal challenging an Oklahoma judge’s ruling that the company helped fuel Oklahoma’s opioid crisis.

Saying he does not want his professional involvement in the opioid case to become a distraction for the state regents, Andy Lester announced his resignation Tuesday.

“Out of respect for the Oklahoma system of higher education and my fellow members of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, I have decided to step down from my position as a Regent,” he said in a statement. “I have been and will remain loyal to our system of higher education. While I carefully considered the matter and took the added step to seek the opinion of the legal counsel for the State Regents, I understand others have a different interpretation and view.”

Lester, a partner in the Oklahoma City law office of Spencer Fane LLP, is one of the attorneys representing opioid manufacturer Johnson & Johnson in its appeal filed with the Oklahoma Supreme Court last month.

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