AUGUSTA — Attorney General William Schneider issued a letter Friday saying that state Treasurer Bruce Poliquin should not actively manage his investments and that a third party should manage his businesses while he serves as treasurer.

Schneider wrote the five-page letter in response to two inquiries last month from Rep. Mark Dion, D-Portland, who questioned whether, under the state Constitution, Poliquin can run his businesses while he’s in office.

The Constitution says “the Treasurer shall not, during the treasurer’s continuance in office, engage in any business of trade or commerce, or as a broker, nor as an agent or factor for any merchant or trader.”

Poliquin owns the Popham Beach Club in Phippsburg and a company called Dirigo Holdings LLC, which is the development company for Popham Woods Condominiums.

In the letter to Dion, Schneider concludes that the Constitution “permits the Treasurer to continue to hold personal investments, such as stocks and bonds, while in office, given that there is nothing in the Maine Constitution or in statute that requires divestiture.”

He also says that Poliquin should have a third party manage his businesses, that he should not actively manage them, and that he should not “appear before any governmental bodies on behalf of entities that he owns.”

Poliquin, a Republican who ran for governor in 2010, was sworn in as treasurer in January 2011. In December, he spoke at a Phippsburg Planning Board meeting to ask permission for expanded operations at the beach club.

Poliquin has refused to speak with MaineToday Media about the issue. He said on WGAN-AM this week that he should not have appeared before the planning board.

“That was a mistake, by the way. I should not have gone to that (meeting),” he said on the WGAN Morning News. “That was a dumb thing to do.”

Dion said Friday that he was satisfied that Schneider answered the questions he raised.

“The AG is putting the way forward,” he said. “He’s saying, ‘Moving forward, this is how you’re expected to behave.'”

He said lawmakers and Poliquin can take this weekend to digest Schneider’s letter and decide Monday whether any other follow-up steps are necessary.

“If that satisfies the House and Senate, then we’re OK,” he said.

Poliquin did not return a phone call Friday seeking comment. He said earlier this week that he would make changes, if necessary, so he can continue serving as treasurer.

“To become a state treasurer, you do not have to sell everything you own,” Poliquin told WGAN listeners Tuesday. “I have other people who run those assets for me.”

He said he believes that Dion’s questions — and questions raised by the Maine Democratic Party about his financial disclosures — are linked to his criticism of Democratic leadership in state government.

Last week, in response to the complaint from the Maine Democratic Party, Poliquin modified a financial disclosure statement he had filed with the state ethics commission.

In his letter, Schneider says there’s little guidance, including case law, on how to apply the Constitution to the activities of a state treasurer. But he does offer some advice.

“During the treasurer’s term in office, he should take steps to disassociate himself from the active management of any of the entities in which he is invested and any entities in which he is the sole owner or principal or agent,” he says.

Susan Cover — 620-7015

[email protected]

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