Christina Hughes

BATH — Political newcomer Christina Hughes, who is challenging Sean Paulhus for the Maine House District 52 seat, misrepresented three roles that she claimed she held in community organizations on social media and in newspaper articles, according to representatives from those organizations.

Hughes has claimed to be the director of development and implementation for New Hope for Women, which supports people affected by domestic and dating violence and stalking in the Midcoast.

She also wrote she acts as the finance director for a local pet rescue organization and organized and sponsored a suicide awareness walk in Bath.

Representatives of those three organizations refute Hughes’ claims.

Repeated attempts to reach Hughes on Thursday by phone and on social media were unsuccessful. Hughes, a Republican, is the owner of Sea Side Studios, a tattoo and piercing shop in downtown Bath.

Hughes’ claims appear on an image from her campaign’s Facebook page.

They also appeared in profiles run in The Times Record and Forecaster newspapers.

The Times Record and other newspapers sent questionnaires to candidates seeking office across the state. As part of that questionnaire, candidates were asked to detail their involvement in any community groups or causes. Candidate responses were edited for length and clarity but were not fact-checked by newsroom staff due to the volume of profiles that needed to be processed before the election.

Hughes’ responses to the questionnaire were published on The Times Record website, but not in print.

This photo posted to Christina Hughes’ campaign’s Facebook page claims the candidate had roles in local nonprofit organizations, which was disputed by representatives of those organizations.

Rebekah Paredes, executive director of New Hope for Women, said she’s familiar with Hughes because she has offered a fundraising event for the organization through her tattoo parlor in honor of domestic abuse awareness month. However, Paredes said she is not employed by New Hope for Women and the fundraising event is “the only interaction we’ve had with her.”

A statement from New Hope for Women says Paredes reached out to Hughes via phone, email and social media “in an attempt to understand why Ms. Hughes was referring to herself in this way.”

“I was hopeful that there was a reasonable explanation for the statement,” said Paredes said in the statement sent to The Times Record, “and was looking forward to speaking with Ms. Hughes.”

In an interview, Paredes said she is “baffled and frustrated” by Hughes’ claim.

“We wanted to focus on getting the truth out, especially because it could influence voters on who they choose to represent them,” said Paredes. “Our priority now is protecting the reputation of our agency and the public. We’ve been in the community for almost 40 years and touched the lives of so many people. We don’t want our name to be tarnished by any inappropriate action this woman may have done.”

Paredes said the organization “did our due diligence” for weeks to ensure there wasn’t a misunderstanding, but came back empty-handed.

There is a New Hope Women’s Shelter in Solon but Maureen Johnson, manager of the shelter, said she was not familiar with anyone named Christina Hughes.

Last month, Hughes told The Forecaster she also has “organized and sponsored the Maine Suicide Walk in Bath” beginning in 2013.

Bath City Council Chairperson Mari Eosco said the annual Out of Darkness Community Walk, aimed at raising suicide awareness and fundraising for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, is the only suicide awareness walk that takes place in Bath.

Shamera Simpson, area director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, said the annual Out of Darkness began in Bath in 2016 and is organized by Bath resident Cristal Homan.

Homan could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

Hughes also wrote she is the “finance director for annual local pet rescue” in The Times Record and told The Forecaster she acts as the finance director for Souly Maine Rescue Pets, an animal rescue organization in Bath.

While she organized a fundraiser at her business for Souly Maine Rescue Pets in early 2019, an official from the organization said Thursday Hughes is not the finance director, as that position does not exist.

According to Jonathan Wayne, executive director of the Maine Ethics Commission, “the state does regulate campaign speech, due to the First Amendment” but it doesn’t impose any disciplinary action for “false or misleading campaign speech.”

“The consequences would be private,” Wayne said. “People and organizations would present the contrary facts and voters would draw their own conclusions.”

District 52 is the sole legislative district that represents Bath in the Maine House and has been represented by Paulhus, a Bath city councilor, since 2019. The district is heavily Democratic. Paulhus defeated his opponent in the 2018 election, Kenneth Sener, 975-491.

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