Liberal group files complaint against Poliquin, other U.S. House members

U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin is among 23 Republican House members who were named in an ethics complaint from the liberal American Democracy Legal Fund on Wednesday, claiming they’ve used congressional office resources to campaign.

It revolves around the members’ signing of an agreement with the the National Republican Congressional Committee, the campaign arm for their caucus, in which they trade campaign money and support in the 2016 election for agreeing to a list of requirements, including a legislative agenda and fundraising for the committee.

Those members are part of the NRCC’s “Patriot Program,” which provides help to vulnerable Republicans. Poliquin’s race next year in Maine’s 2nd District is expected to be one of the most hotly contested races nationwide, with 2014 Democratic challenger Emily Cain running again for her party’s nomination against Bangor City Councilor Joe Baldacci. The group spent more than $1 million in the race last year.

In this case, the American Democracy Legal Fund says the members are improperly coordinating their legislative strategies with the NRCC, which “plainly contemplates the use of official resources to accomplish that task” in violation of law and House rules.

But for the group, these kinds of calls for investigations are common: This year, it’s flagged potential violations from Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Jeb Bush, as well as other conservative groups and figures.

On Wednesday, Brent Littlefield, Poliquin’s political adviser, dismissed the complaint as “catnip for the news media to ignore substance in favor of politics.”

“While some want to talk politics a year before an election, Congressman Poliquin just passed his first authored bill through Congress helping parents and he has passed an amendment to encourage job creation around former Maine military bases,” he said.

Michael Shepherd

About Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after covering state, federal and local issues for the Kennebec Journal for three years. He's a Hallowell native who now lives in Gardiner. He graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and is a graduate student at the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service.