U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, R-2nd District, touts fiscal discipline, but he and his real estate company were late paying taxes dozens of times.

A review of property tax records in the Maine communities of Oakland, Phippsburg, Georgetown and Bath indicates that the freshman lawmaker from Oakland, who represents Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, was assessed interest 31 times for tardy payments in the last 10 years for properties he owned outright, owned with his parents or was developing through his real estate company.

Poliquin’s property tax payment histories were among those of all members of Maine’s congressional delegation, as well as Poliquin’s Democratic opponent, reviewed by the Associated Press this summer through public records requests and interviews with town tax officials.

Poliquin’s track record was the worst, but he also controlled more property as a developer. He owned properties outright or through joint ownership with his parents; he held a stake in others through a real estate development company, Dirigo Holdings LLC.

The land included an oceanfront development, Popham Woods Condominiums in Phippsburg; the members-only Popham Beach Club; and a former sardine factory site he’d hoped to redevelop in Bath.

There were four late payments since he won election to Congress in November 2014.


He dismissed his own late payments and interest penalties that added up to about $1,000 as the “cost of doing business” and attributed them to his thorough review of transactions.

“I have always ensured that all property taxes are paid in full — after a thorough review by myself and my business team,” Poliquin told the AP in a statement.

Poliquin later Wednesday expanded on his comments in a statement to the Morning Sentinel, stressing that all his taxes were paid in full and saying that for most Mainers, “property taxes are paid without a check even being cut or even a thought about the bill.”

“Maine people with home mortgages generally have these bills paid through an escrow process without even giving it a thought,” he said. “However, in the real estate business, property taxes are critical. These transactions include the need for thorough and complete reviews.”

This election year, Democrats aim to make gains in the House, cutting into the Republicans’ commanding advantage. Poliquin’s seat in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District is a top target after he won a hard-fought, three-way race in 2014.

Poliquin, a businessman and former state treasurer, has touted himself as a “dependable voice for fiscal responsibility.”


In April, he voted in favor of several measures aimed at promoting greater accountability for the Internal Revenue Service, including a bill requiring the IRS to submit proof that its employees do not have tax liens before making additional hires. In a news release at the time, Poliquin said he felt it was important to “verify that (the IRS’s) own employees are paying their taxes.”

Sandy Maisel, a professor of government at Colby College in Waterville who is also a Democrat, said that Poliquin’s repeated failure to pay taxes on time could be a sign that he sees himself as privileged and doesn’t think he needs to abide by the rules that regular citizens do.

“The issue of late taxes is something many people understand, and their vote isn’t going to be decided by one instance of that; but if it is sort of a recurring pattern, then it says, ‘I’m privileged and I don’t have to follow the rules that other people do,'” Maisel said.

The issue also could raise a red flag in the minds of voters who might draw parallels between Poliquin’s late payments and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns. Poliquin has not outright endorsed Trump and has on numerous occasions refused to comment on Trump’s nomination.

“There’s something wrong with Trump and his taxes — that’s how the public views it,” Maisel said. “And now we find out there’s something wrong with Poliquin and his taxes. They’re probably not in the same category, but in the minds of the public, we all have to pay our taxes. Why are these people different?”

The interest Poliquin owed ranged from as little a penny to as much as $575, according to the analysis. Most of the payments were made within weeks; there was a single lien that was resolved for less than $20 in interest.


Poliquin, who serves on the Financial Services Committee, worked for a fund management company before getting into public service as Maine’s treasurer and then as a member of Congress. The millionaire has always touted his business background and fiscal conservatism in his political campaigns, including his recent introduction of a new bill that would cut down on welfare abuse and the waste of taxpayer dollars.

“Donors and others know I am a solid and dependable voice for fiscal responsibility, strong families and real job growth,” he said in his 2014 campaign.

The findings in property tax records on other Maine politicians:

• Sen. Angus King, an independent, has a primary residence in Brunswick, a ski condominium at Sugarloaf, a summer retreat in Georgetown, Maine, and a home in Washington, D.C. According to records, King was assessed interest for being late three times on parcels in Georgetown and twice around the time he bought his home in Washington.

King said the late payments “were the result of inadvertent errors, which were corrected and paid in full as soon as they were discovered.”

• There was no interest paid by Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat, on property including a restaurant and lodge, along with two other properties, in North Haven. Interest was assessed to Pingree’s Republican opponent, Mark Holbrook, of Brunswick, for late payments in each year since 2008. Holbrook said that Brunswick’s taxes were high, and that he’s working to pay his bills.


• Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican, had no late payments on current homes in Bangor and Washington, D.C., or her camp in Enfield.

• Poliquin’s Democratic opponent, Emily Cain, had no late payments in Orono for a lakeside property or the home she and her husband once owned. They recently sold that home and bought a new one in March in Orono, according to records.

Poliquin lives in Oakland, where he moved before becoming the first Republican in 20 years to occupy the 2nd District seat after winning the 2014 election.

Before that, his primary residence was in Georgetown, near a Phippsburg housing development he was creating. Fourteen late payments were linked to property in Phippsburg in the past 10 years. Poliquin sold the Popham Beach Club last year and transferred his title as registered agent of Dirigo Holdings LLC in 2013.

Phippsburg was an early adopter of electronic payments and had electronic data going back to the 1990s. Setting the clock back to 1993, Poliquin had about 10 more late payments, the analysis found.

The Associated Press analysis comes with about three months to go until the November election, when Poliquin will face off in a rematch against Cain.


Poliquin and Cain are locked in a tight contest: A June poll by the Portland Press Herald/ Maine Sunday Telegram conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center found 41 percent of voters supporting Poliquin, 40 percent supporting Cain, 7 percent supporting someone else and 12 percent undecided.

Meanwhile, campaign finance reports filed last month with the Federal Elections Commission showed Cain raised more money than Poliquin in the second quarter of 2016, although the freshman congressman still had a nearly $1 million advantage over Cain. From April 1 to June 30, Cain raised more than $542,000, while Poliquin drew in about $413,000, the report found. Yet Poliquin finished the quarter with $2.1 million cash on hand, while Cain had $1.15 million. To date, Cain had raised more than $1.6 million, while Poliquin had raised about $2.6 million.

Dan Gleick, communications director for Cain, on Wednesday declined to comment on Poliquin’s taxes, but other Democrats around the state were quick to criticize him.

Phil Bartlett, chairman of the Maine Democratic Party, called Poliquin’s failure to pay on time “deeply hypocritical.”

“This shows a pattern of rule-breaking that is hard to ignore,” Bartlett said in a statement.

Bronwen Tudor, chairwoman of the Sagadahoc County Democrats and a resident of Georgetown, also criticized Poliquin, saying he “doesn’t play by the rules,” in a statement sent via the Maine Democrats and citing Poliquin’s past enrollment of his Georgetown estate in a Tree Growth Tax program designed to promote commercial tree harvesting.

Poliquin, in his statement to the Morning Sentinel, also took aim at Cain and news outlets, saying that “unlike my political opponent, I have spent a lifetime in business creating jobs.”

“We are in the silly season where media and political opponents, many of whom have not worked in the business world where these issues are common, look for gotcha material to distract from the important issues of terrorism, job creation, and health care,” Poliquin said.

Staff writer Rachel Ohm contributed to this report.

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