BRUNSWICK — Maine Democrats on Friday released District 53 Rep. Jeffrey Pierce‘s criminal records spanning a 25-year period from the early 1980s to the early 2000s. That history includes arrests for drug trafficking and possession, operating under the influence and assault, according to court documents.

The Maine Democratic Party released the information in a Friday morning email after running background checks on several Republican candidates for Maine office. The release comes with less than three weeks before Election Day, when Pierce will appear on the ballot for his third term. He’s running against Democrat Allison Hepler.

Pierce said Friday afternoon that he was “perplexed” by the release of his criminal record, calling it a “non-story.”

“It was 36 years ago,” he said. “I’ve made mistakes, I’m not proud of it. … If anything, it should be a story championing how a person can turn their life around.”

Pierce questioned why the information was being released now, when he is running for his third term, instead of four years ago when he was up against a three-term incumbent Democrat.

It is not “standard practice” to look into the backgrounds of all candidates on the ballot, Chris Glynn from the Maine Democratic Party said in an email. “We only became aware of Jeff Pierce’s criminal record after another candidate’s history was reported on last month,” he added.

According to a background check, which has been verified by The Times Record, Pierce pleaded guilty to possession of hashish in 1981 and received a suspended 90-day sentence and one year of probation.

Two years later, he pleaded guilty on one felony and one misdemeanor count of trafficking scheduled drugs, cocaine and marijuana. He was sentenced to six months in jail with all but 30 days suspended and placed on another year of probation.

In April 2004 he was arrested for assault and criminal threatening in Dresden, and pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct after he yelled at a pushed a man. According to court documents he “did intentionally or knowingly place (the victim) in fear of imminent bodily injury.”

Pierce was also charged with an assault in 1981, but after three months the case was dismissed.

He was arrested in Lincoln County in 2005 for operating under the influence, his second OUI, having been convicted previously in 1981.

Maine Democratic Party officials lambasted Pierce in the release for voting against LD 1711, a bill designed to help those affected by the opioid epidemic, despite having a drug record of his own. The release called the vote “unconscionable.”

In a candidate profile run in the Lincoln County News, Pierce said the Legislature had “failed … to act on making penalties stiff for people who are drug dealers.” According to the Democrat’s release, “public records show that Pierce’s attorney petitioned the court for leniency following his felony drug trafficking conviction in 1983, asking for a reduction in his fine and probation following his incarceration.”

Pierce said he could not speak to whether or not his previous drug charges directly influenced the way he has voted on specific bills, but did say “I know penalties work because they worked on me.”

Ultimately, Pierce feels he has been a productive member of his community over the years. “I have life experiences, some good, some bad,” he said. “I’ve never hid from my record.”

“Some people need to tear other people down,” he said, arguing the Democratic Party “stooped to low tactics.”

Others targeted

Pierce was among four Maine Republicans — all running for election or reelection to the House — that the Maine Democratic Party targeted in a press release Friday morning. The others are William Faulkingham, Beverly Beatty and Christopher Hoy.

The Portland Press Herald reported that Pierce’s political action committee contributed to Faulkingham’s campaign for House District 136 in Washington and Hancock counties. The newspaper reported that: “According to Democrats, Faulkingham has also been convicted of assault and in 2003 he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and criminal mischief following another assault charge. According to court records, Faulkingham ‘repeatedly holler(ed) (expletive) you, gave an obscene gesture, to wit, the finger, and threw a bucket of human excrement at or on’ individuals identified as the victims of the crime, Democrats said.”

Beatty is running for House District 97, which includes Belfast, Northport and Waldo, and was convicted of assault for an incident in a Bangor nightclub in 2017.

Hoy, who is running as a placeholder candidate for House District 33 representing South Portland, was convicted of six misdemeanors between 2015 and 2017, including disorderly conduct, violating a protective order, drunken driving, reckless conduct and two instances of violating the conditions of his release, according to the Press Herald.

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