Maine treasurer responds to ethics complaint, mum on tax, constitutional issues

AUGUSTA — State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin says an ethics complaint filed by the Maine Democratic Party is "unwarranted" and "politically motivated."

In a nine-page response to charges that he failed to disclose income designed to guard against potential conflicts of interest with his duties as a constitutional officer, Poliquin on Friday provided additional information about his personal finances. 

Poliquin wrote to the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices that he didn't report his income from his Popham Beach Club because the business didn't make any money in 2010. 

The disclosure law requires elected officials to report income over $1,000 in a calendar year. While Poliquin acknowledged that the beach club took in $9,750 in membership dues in 2010, he said his expenses at the club eclipsed that amount. 

Poliquin wrote in the report that he "overlooked" his son's income from a 10-week summer internship in 2010. The treasurer had left blank the section of the disclosure form requesting the income of immediate family members.

Poliquin explained that he had omitted some of the information because he found the disclosure form "unclear and confusing." However, he wrote, he now understands that it's necessary to file an amended disclosure.

The amended filing was included in the response to the ethics commission.

Poliquin argued that the income did not conflict with his duties as treasurer and the complaint by the Democratic Party should be dismissed.

"This request (by the Democratic Party) is unwarranted and quite clearly, politically motivated," he wrote.

Janet Mills, vice chairwoman of the Maine Democratic Party, in a written statement said it was "astonishing" that it took Poliquin a year "to figure out how to fill out a simple four-page form — a form that hundreds of state employees, appointees and part-time legislators routinely fill out without any complications."

She added, "I'm sorry that Mr. Poliquin forgot about his million-dollar Beach Club last year when he was reporting to the people of Maine what his sources of income were. But what is really scary is that this individual, who can't seem to fill out a simple form, has been entrusted by the Republican Legislature to handle billions of dollars of taxpayers money. What else has he forgotten? What will he remember next?"

Poliquin's response was sent to the ethics commission late Friday. The treasurer also forwarded it to members of the media. 

It was the his first response to the ethics issue. The Democratic Party filed its complaint Jan. 17. 

The complaint stemmed from a request by Rep. Mark Dion, D-Portland, that the attorney general review whether Poliquin violated a provision of the Maine Constitution designed to limit the state treasurer's business dealings while he or she is responsible for the state's treasury.

Dion requested an opinion from Attorney General William Schneider on whether Poliquin's ownership of Dirigo Holdings LLC falls outside the bounds of Article V, Pt. 3.

The article in the Constitution reads: "The treasurer shall not, during the treasurer's continuance in office, engage in any business of trade or commerce, or as a broker, nor as an agent or factor for any merchant or trader."

Poliquin has not responded to media requests for comment on the matter. The AG has not yet provided an opinion.

Poliquin's political opponents also have questioned whether the state treasurer used a 40-year-old conservation law as a tax shelter for his waterfront property in Georgetown. 

The ethics commission is expected to review the Democratic Party complaint during its Feb. 29 meeting.

smistler@sunjournal.com

Poliquin response

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DONALD FERLAND's picture

This just raises new

This just raises new questions. He didn't understand the form? Didn't he know enough to ask questions if he didn't understand it? Give me a break. He says the Democrats are questioning it because of political reasons. Well what is he doing to Dale McCormick? Come on now Mr. Poliquin we all know there is nothing that happens in Augusta that is not politically motivated.

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