Bangor real estate agent Angelia Levesque’s meeting with U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin earlier this month in Washington started with a line he often uses with constituents: “You’re the customer.”

Levesque has been assigned by the National Association of Realtors to be a liaison with Poliquin’s office — a key role, since the freshman Republican from Maine’s 2nd District is on the House Financial Services Committee, which regulates real estate, banks and other sectors.

His staffers often post videos online of him in the committee room grilling bureaucrats on perceived waste and over-regulation and touting the district’s small financial institutions and “hardworking people.” His work has gotten big money for his re-election bid and high marks from many in Maine’s financial industry.

Two weeks before that Washington visit, Poliquin and Levesque met in Bangor. Levesque said he’s been “generous with his time.”

“He really grasped the issues really well, which I really like about him,” she said. “Being a numbers guy, we really don’t have to bring him up to speed.”

The role suits Poliquin, 61, of Oakland, who made a fortune as a New York City investment manager before developing real estate, becoming state treasurer and winning his congressional seat last year.

“I’ve had a lot of experiences in my life, and I’m proud to have had them,” he said, “and it just so happens some of those experiences fit this committee very, very well.”

But it’s rare for a Maine congressman. Four current committee members are from New York City, but Poliquin is only the eighth Maine member since 1865, according to Library of Congress research. The last Mainer there was Democrat Peter Kyros, who was moved to another committee after two months in 1967.

It has been a boon to Poliquin’s 2016 campaign for re-election. He raised $700,000 in 2015’s first quarter with $133,000 of that from financial services industry political action committees alone. Democrat Emily Cain, who lost to him last year and is his only declared opponent now, raised $136,000 total.

While Mark Brewer, a University of Maine political science professor, said the assignment could make Poliquin more vulnerable to attacks from Democrats who say he’s a creature of Wall Street — an attack that liberal interest groups tried in 2014 — the fundraising positives outweigh the negatives.

“I’ll make that trade,” Brewer said, also noting that it gives Poliquin a platform to “spout pretty standard and pretty popular Republican lines” on regulation.

The Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, championed by Democrats and making sweeping changes to financial regulation, was aimed at improving accountability and protecting consumers. But banks and other institutions say it has hurt them with John Murphy, executive director of the Maine Credit Union League, calling it a “landslide.”

Larry Barker, president of Machias Savings Bank, said new rules making it more difficult for someone with a 43 percent debt-to-income ratio to qualify for a mortgage have created regulatory hoops for loyal bank customers who have never missed payments. At a hearing earlier this month, Poliquin said it’s starting to “smother our small banks that are the backbone of our community.”

“We’re excited about how vocal and how passionate he has been,” Barker said.

Poliquin told the director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency in January that he’s concerned by the government’s large share of mortgage-backed securities backstopped by taxpayers. Levesque credits government loans with helping to get the country out of the 2007 and 2008 financial crisis, but she said she doesn’t expect to agree with Poliquin on everything.

“He understands the housing market, and he doesn’t really want to do anything to hurt the housing market,” she said.

Poliquin’s first bill, introduced in April, would make it easier to collect child support from delinquent parents. Poliquin said his role on the committee gives him a chance to influence legislation that affects “the bloodline of our economy.”

“It affects their ability to borrow money. It affects their companies’ ability to borrow money,” he said. “And if you can’t get credit and borrow money because of these regulations, then you can’t grow and these companies can’t hire people.”

Michael Shepherd — 370-7652

[email protected]

Twitter: @mikeshepherdme

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