Republican leaders unlikely to enter treasurer fray; Dems seek next step

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AUGUSTA — Senate President Kevin Raye, R-Perry, said Monday it’s unlikely Republican leaders will step into a constitutional matter with State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin.

Attorney General William Schneider last week issued an advisory opinion saying Poliquin should take steps to disassociate himself from his real estate and financial holdings. Schneider also laid out a series of steps Poliquin should take to build a firewall between him and his assets — all things Schneider believes are required by Maine’s Constitution.

“What I expect to happen is that the state treasurer will heed the report of the attorney general,” said Raye, adding that legislative action isn’t likely. 

Raye said Republican leaders had not yet met with Democratic leaders to discuss the matter. 

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Although Raye and Republicans will want to put the issue to rest, that route isn’t likely to satisfy Democrats, who have grown weary of Poliquin’s use of his office to attack Democratic policies and bullhorn the state’s financial problems.

Schneider’s opinion followed a request for review from Rep. Mark Dion, D-Portland, about whether Poliquin had violated a provision in the Maine Constitution designed to limit the treasurer’s business dealings while he or she is responsible for the state Treasury.

Dion said Tuesday that the Legislature, which elects the state treasurer, should issue a formal response.

“We’re doing some research now to review the appropriate next steps,” Dion said. “I know some don’t want to talk about it, but to my mind, the treasurer has violated the Constitution. I don’t think we can just stand aside and say, ‘Oops.'”

He added, “There has to be a formal response. I’m just not sure what the best vehicle is to do that.”

Schneider’s ruling stopped short of saying Poliquin’s ownership of Dirigo Holdings LLC falls outside the bounds of Article V, Pt. 3 of the Constitution. However, the AG said it was clear the treasurer was prohibited from accepting “other employment” or providing “other services to others while in office.”

Schneider added that while it was OK for the treasurer to have stock holdings, they should be managed by a third party. 

Schneider also noted that Poliquin should not appear before governmental bodies on behalf of the businesses he owns.

The latter referred to Poliquin’s appearance before the Phippsburg Board of Selectmen in December when he sought to expand the business license for his Popham Beach Club.

Poliquin, during an interview on WGAN 560 last week, acknowledged that his appearance at the Phippsburg meeting was “a mistake.” He also told the radio show that he has a bookkeeper managing his other investments at Dirigo Holdings LLC.

Jodi Quintero, a spokeswoman with the House Democrats, said in statement that as the sole proprietor of Dirigo Holdings LLC and the beach club, it is unclear whether Poliquin can create a blind trust.

“It’s not an investment — he is the sole owner,” Quintero wrote. “We are asking these questions now. A simple slap on the wrist for the constitutional officer who has violated the Constitution is not enough. It appears the Republican AG is giving him a ‘do-over.'”

smistler@sunjournal.com

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