NORTH ANSON — Fresh off a trip to an exclusive Maine summit for investors, U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin said Tuesday that loosening regulations on small banks will be among his top goals after lawmakers return from a recess in September.

The freshman Republican from Maine’s 2nd District, who sits on the House Financial Services Committee, said after a tour of Cousineau Wood Products in North Anson that he’ll be focused this fall on scaling back pieces of the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, a law championed by Democrats that aims to improve banks’ accountability by increasing financial regulation in the wake of the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008.

Smaller banks, including some in Maine, have said the law has hurt them. In May, the president of Machias Savings Bank said new rules that made it more difficult for a person with a 43 percent debt-to-income ratio to qualify for a mortgage have hindered loyal customers who haven’t missed payments in the past.

Poliquin, who attended this year’s Camp Kotok, an annual meeting in Grand Lake Stream for people in the financial services industry, called Dodd-Frank “a massive net” that wasn’t designed for community banks or credit unions. He said “they get caught in the same net” as larger banks and can have trouble lending money that could stimulate local economies.

“Catch the big guys. Regulate them a bit more,” Poliquin said. “But if something goes wrong at the local credit union, it doesn’t jeopardize the economy.”

The law has been one of Poliquin’s targets in his short time in Congress. In January, one of his first votes was in support of a bill that would give U.S. banks two more years to make sure certain risky securities they’re holding aren’t out of compliance with new rules. Democrats criticized the bill with one calling it a “gift to a handful of the biggest Wall Street banks.”

Poliquin, who made a fortune as a New York City investment manager before entering politics in 2010, was criticized for his ties to Wall Street in the 2014 campaign and already has raised more than $1 million for his re-election bid. More than $220,000 has come from financial services political action committees, according to a Kennebec Journal analysis of contributions. By contrast, Democrat Emily Cain, who’s running a primary race for Poliquin’s seat in 2016 against Joe Baldacci, raised $288,000 altogether through June.

Maine’s entire congressional delegation voted for Dodd-Frank in 2009, including Sen. Susan Collins and former Sen. Olympia Snowe, two of just three Senate Republicans to vote for the law. But Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, said in a speech after his 2012 election that he likely would have opposed it because of its effect on small banks and introduced a bill last year that would provide them with regulatory relief.

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat from the 1st District who voted for Dodd-Frank, said in a statement that she’s “definitely open to ways we could tweak Dodd-Frank” so it doesn’t burden small banks “that did not cause our financial crisis.” She called herself “a strong supporter of the law,” which she called “critical to reining in the kind of irresponsible, unsustainable practices on Wall Street” that led to the economic crisis.

“We absolutely have to make sure that any changes to Dodd-Frank don’t weaken its foundation or its ability to protect the economic recovery the country has worked so hard to create,” Pingree said.

Michael Shepherd — 370-7652

[email protected]

Twitter: @mikeshepherdme

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