Republicans join Democrats in vote to pass House Order on Treasurer
March 1, 2012
AUGUSTA – State lawmakers today voted 122-0 to request that the Maine Supreme Court advise the House on whether State Treasurer Bruce Poliquin may continue to serve in office after violating the Maine Constitution.
“I’m pleased that the majority party is now willing to join us to ensure that no one is above the law, especially those who are empowered to uphold it,” said Rep. Mark Dion, D-Portland, who first introduced the request for the court’s advice earlier this week. Dion is a former sheriff of Cumberland County and a lawyer.
Dion added, “Mr. Poliquin must be held accountable for his actions. You can’t break the law and then walk away.”
The Maine Constitution prohibits the Treasurer from engaging in commerce, but Poliquin has been acting as the sole proprietor of the Popham Beach Club and of the real estate development company Dirigo Holdings, LLC, which is developing and marketing a $17 million beachfront lot in Phippsburg.
Dion first proposed the request in a special legislative document called a “House Order Propounding Questions to the Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court” to clarify the law and advise the Legislature. Republicans, who are in the majority in the House, introduced a similar request prompted by Dion’s and the vote today was in support of their request.
According to the Maine Constitution, Article VI, Section 3:
“Justices of the Supreme Judicial Court shall be obliged to give their opinion upon important questions of law, and upon solemn occasions, when required by the Governor, Senate or House of Representatives.”
Democrats said the questions had to be clarified because the Treasurer has fiduciary oversight for bond legislation being considered by state lawmakers.
“We need the court to provide guidance now that we are considering multiple bond proposals, which are part of Mr. Poliquin’s fiduciary duties,” said Rep. Peggy Rotundo, D-Lewiston, the Democratic lead on the state’s Appropriations Committee. “Mr. Poliquin’s actions may hold these bonds in question.”
Dion first raised the questions about Poliquin’s business dealings last December after news broke that the treasurer appeared before the Town of Phippsburg’s planning board on multiple occasions regarding a permit to expand the business activity of his private beach club.
“Clearly, the facts raise questions about Mr. Poliquin’s activities,” said Dion. “As a former street cop, I’ve collected the facts, now we have to let the court do its job and provide a verdict.”
According to the website for Poliquin’s Popham Beach Club, family memberships are available for rental for private events beginning in May 2012. The revenues and expenses of the beach club are attributed to Poliquin. While a manager is employed with responsibility for day-to day operations of the club, the manager is not involved with the finances. Poliquin is the sole signatory for the beach club’s checking account and the utility bills are in his name.
Records on file with Secretary of State’s Office indicate that Poliquin is also the clerk or registered agent for his real estate development company, Dirigo Holdings. He is the sole member of the company and its management is vested in its members.
The company is developing a 69 unit condominium in the Town of Phippsburg known as Popham Woods Condominiums, according to a Site Location Development Order issued by the Maine Department of Environmental Protection issued in 2007. The order says Poliquin intended to self-finance the proposed project. Some of these properties are currently being marketed by a realty company.
In a written opinion issued on Feb. 10 in response to an inquiry from Dion, Attorney General William Schneider said Poliquin should “disassociate” himself from his businesses and “should not appear before any governmental bodies on behalf of entities that he owns.” Schneider’s opinion also said there was a lack of “judiciary analysis” from the courts on topic.
The Court now must decide if there is sufficient reason for them to provide guidance to the Legislature on the matter.
Jodi Quintero [Dion, Rotundo] 287-1488, c. 841-6279