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February 4, 2012

State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin

State treasurer responds to ethics panel

By Edward D. Murphy
emurphy@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin says he didn't report income from his Popham Beach Club on a disclosure form last year because the club didn't make any money.

On Friday, he filed an amended report that includes the business.

Responding to an ethics complaint filed by the Maine Democratic Party, Poliquin also added other items to the disclosure form, including information about his son's earnings from an internship and his involvement in a real-estate investment partnership.

The Democratic Party filed its complaint with the Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices last month, saying Poliquin failed to fully disclose his income sources after he became state treasurer in December 2010.

Poliquin filled out the form in February 2011.

In his response to the complaint, Poliquin wrote to the ethics commission that because he didn't make any money from the beach club in Phippsburg, he didn't believe he had to list the business on the disclosure form, which asks for sources of income of $1,000 or more. Poliquin said he made $9,750 from membership dues in 2010, but expenses exceeded that amount.

Poliquin did not respond Friday night to an email request from The Portland Press Herald for more information, including the amount of the expenses and the type of expenses incurred.

He said in Friday's filing that he "overlooked" his son's income from a 10-week summer internship in 2010 when he left blank the section of the disclosure form on sources of income for immediate family members.

Poliquin also said he did not recall a partnership in a real-estate investment that netted him about $13,000 in non-cash income in 2010.

He also said he found some parts of the disclosure form "unclear and confusing."

The Democratic Party dismissed his response Friday.

"It's astonishing that it has taken this man a full 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," said Janet Mills, vice chair of the state Democratic Committee.

"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," Mills said. "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."

The ethics commission is scheduled to take up the complaint against Poliquin on Feb. 29. In his letter, Poliquin said he will attend that hearing but suggested that the commission dismiss the complaint and reject the Democratic Party's request for the maximum $100 fine for failing to fill out the form properly.

"This request is unwarranted and, quite clearly, politically motivated," he wrote.

The ethics complaint is just one of the issues that have been raised about Poliquin's financial dealings.

State Rep. Mark Dion, D-Portland, has asked the attorney general for an opinion on whether Poliquin's beach club violates a constitutional provision that says the state treasurer cannot engage in private business while in office.

And this week, Maine's Majority questioned Poliquin's use of the Maine Tree Growth Tax program to lower his property taxes on oceanfront land he owns in Georgetown.

Because of the tax break for tree production, the assessment on the 10-acre waterfront parcel was cut from $1.8 million to $725,500.

Maine's Majority said a Maine Forest Service report concluded that the land was eligible for the program, even though the potential for harvesting any timber on the property "is extremely limited" because of access problems and limits on harvesting under state shoreland zoning regulations.

Poliquin has not responded to Maine Majority's complaints.

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

emurphy@pressherald.com





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