U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin said Wednesday that to improve the country’s tax code, more needs to be done to close tax loopholes and lower taxes overall.

The 2nd District Republican incumbent has come under fire in the past for taking advantage of tax loopholes in Maine.

Democratic challenger Emily Cain quickly attacked the congressman’s statement in a debate on WCSH6, calling it “hypocritical.” Poliquin didn’t directly respond, but called Cain a “career politician” and “extreme liberal” while criticizing her support of legislation that would have raised taxes, including a proposed carbon tax and expansion of the Maine sales tax.

The debate – the third and final between the pair – was streamed live Wednesday afternoon on the news station’s website and appeared on television Wednesday night.

The tax question was brought up early in the debate by moderator Pat Callaghan in the half-hour segment, which also included the candidates’ thoughts on the Affordable Care Act, immigration and the presidential election.

Cain, in response to the tax question, said she would like to close tax loopholes abused by the rich and cited her work in creating balanced budgets in Augusta.


“I want to make sure everyone is paying their fair share,” she said. “That’s why it’s so hypocritical to hear the congressman talk about taxes, because he himself has paid his taxes late 41 times.”

In August, the Associated Press reported that even as Poliquin has touted fiscal discipline, he and his real estate company were late paying taxes dozens of times. At the time, Poliquin attributed the late payments and interest penalties that added up to about $1,000 to his thorough review of transactions.

In 2012, Poliquin also came under fire for exploiting the state’s Tree Growth Tax Program by placing 10 acres of his waterfront property in Georgetown into a program intended for commercial foresters. After moving the land into a different tax abatement program, Poliquin told the Portland Press Herald the decision had nothing to do with inappropriate use of the original program.

The candidates also sparred over issues of energy, immigration and health care, with Cain saying she supports making changes to the Affordable Care Act to help small businesses afford insurance, while Poliquin said his focus is on making sure residents have choices for insurance and can buy policies across state lines.

On immigration, Cain said more needs to be done to keep people safe without jeopardizing the American dream, while Poliquin criticized Cain for supporting the Obama administration’s Iran nuclear deal.

He also tied Cain to Democratic Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, prompting a question from Callaghan about whether Poliquin thinks Republican Donald Trump has the character to serve as president.

Poliquin has refused on many occasions to comment on Trump and continued to do so.

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