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Posted: Aug 14, 2015

Poliquin on fundraiser with Boehner: ‘That is not a confirmation or a denial’

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House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 29.(AP Photo)
House Speaker John Boehner. (AP Photo)

Early this month, a rumor circulated through Maine political circles that U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin was with House Speaker John Boehner on Mount Desert Island for a fundraiser.

When asked about the event on Tuesday, Poliquin, a 2nd District Republican running for re-election in 2016, didn’t confirm or deny it. But two Republican sources speaking under conditions of anonymity confirmed it Thursday, saying that Boehner was in Northeast Harbor for an event last week. The Maine stop was part of a traveling effort by Boehner this month to raise money for House Republicans.

How did we get here? It started with a tweet from WMTW reporter Paul Merrill on Tuesday, Aug. 4.

After seeing that the next day, my first email was to Brent Littlefield, Poliquin’s political adviser. He didn’t respond, so I called him later that day. He said he didn’t return the message because he had nothing to say about it.

I emailed a Boehner spokesman and never heard back. I called James Willis, the police chief in Bar Harbor and Mount Desert, which includes villages on Mount Desert Island, who said he couldn’t disclose officials’ travel plans or confirm an event. A spokeswoman for the U.S. Capitol Police, which manages Boehner’s security detail, didn’t email back.

But on Thursday, one Republican source confirmed the event. Another GOP aide said Boehner was in Maine to raise money for House Republican members.

I don’t have a firm date or venue for the event, but Poliquin was in Hancock County on Aug. 4, when the Ellsworth American reported that he met with businessmen at a local credit union. The next day, a Facebook post placed him in Hermon en route to Aroostook County, so it’s possible that Merrill was off by a day in his tweet.

Poliquin’s campaign publicized a fundraiser with Boehner last year in Portland. The speaker’s continued attention is good news for his campaign, which both parties have flagged as a key 2016 race.

However, it’s worth pointing out that Poliquin’s campaign has made support from Democratic party leaders an issue before.

After House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California gave money to Democrat Emily Cain, Poliquin’s opponent in 2014, a news release from his campaign dubbed the leader “San Francisco Pelosi.” Cain’s running again in 2016, and Littlefield circulated an invitation for a fundraiser with Pelosi in Washington, D.C., to reporters earlier this year.

So, on Tuesday this week, I met up with Poliquin in North Anson at a business tour. I wrote a story on financial regulation, but I also asked about the Boehner event.

“We have events all the time, Mike. You know, because of confidentiality and security reasons, you know, we don’t confirm a lot of these things,” Poliquin said. “So, that is not a confirmation or a denial.”

We’ve worked around that to solve the mystery — pretty much. But drop me a line if you know more.

U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a Republican from Maine’s 2nd District, left, speaks with Brody Cousineau, vice president of Cousineau Wood Products, during a Tuesday tour of the company’s North Anson facility. (Staff photo by Michael Shepherd)
U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a Republican from Maine’s 2nd District, left, speaks with Brody Cousineau, vice president of Cousineau Wood Products, during a Tuesday tour of the company’s North Anson facility. (Staff photo by Michael Shepherd)
 

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