WASHINGTON — Maine Attorney General William Schneider’s trip here to attend a Supreme Court argument Wednesday is being criticized Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jon Hinck.

Schneider is one of six candidates in Maine’s GOP Senate primary. Hinck, a state representative from Portland and one of four Democrats seeking his party’s Senate nomination, said Schneider shouldn’t have used public funds to help pay for his trip to Washington.

“If he wants to be in Washington to join a protest of the Affordable Care Act, he should do so with his Senate campaign funds, not our taxpayer dollars,” Hinck said. “The trip involves no legal work and offers no benefit to the people of Maine.”

Schneider’s office has said he paid for his trip partly on his own and partly by using a Maine Attorney General’s Office “settlement account” of money won in litigation such as consumer antitrust cases.

Schneider said it is traditional for Maine attorneys general to attend when the state is a party to a Supreme Court case. “It’s important for the people of Maine to know that they’re a plaintiff in the suit and that they’re represented here by me,” he said.

Attorneys general from around the country who were party to the anti-health care lawsuit were in Washington this week to attend oral arguments.

Schneider could not be reached for comment Wednesday evening after Hinck’s campaign put out its release criticizing Schneider’s trip. His office said the attorney general was on his way back to Maine.

Hinck said the money in the settlement account is “still the peoples’ money,” acquired with state resources by employees paid with taxpayers’ dollars.

Hinck, an attorney, said in his release that he is one of more than 500 state legislators from around the country who signed on to a brief defending the health care law. 

Washington Bureau Chief Jonathan Riskind can be contacted at 791-6280 or at [email protected]