On Aug. 6, you published an Associated Press article that pointed out that U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin has been late paying his property taxes “dozens of times.”

But this article failed to say that he also abused Maine’s Tree Growth Law to substantially reduce his property tax obligation on his oceanfront residence in Georgetown and that this abuse went on for 10 years.

Georgetown was Poliquin’s place of residence until he moved to Oakland to run for the House of Representatives from the 2nd Congressional District. Arguably, his abuse of the Tree Growth Law is of far greater moral and ethical significance than the 31 instances of tardy property tax payments for which he paid the necessary penalties, including interest due.

When Poliquin purchased the Georgetown property, he applied to place the 10 acres of undeveloped shoreline woods in the state’s Tree Growth Program.

The objective of the Tree Growth Program is to encourage ” … the management of forest land for a continuous supply of forest products and services.” It achieves this objective by assessing properties for tax purposes at values corresponding to commercial forest values. In the last year on record, Poliquin paid the town of Georgetown only $31 in property taxes on this 10-acre shoreline parcel.

When Poliquin acquired the property, the deed included a covenant that effectively precludes commercial harvesting. Within a month of this abuse becoming public knowledge in 2014, Poliquin applied for reclassification of his tree growth parcel as Open Space.

This is allowed without penalty and assesses properties for tax purposes at only 50 percent of market value. His application for reclassification is a tacit admission that the land should never have been placed in Tree Growth, with its substantial reduction in property taxes.

Myrick Freeman