Protesters stage hunt for 'no-show' congressman
Belfast — A small group of protesters outfitted with magnifying glasses, binoculars, deerstalker caps and "Wanted" posters sleuthed through downtown Thursday, April 20, on a symbolic hunt for U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin.
Members of the search party took aim at "No-show Po" for failing to appear at town hall meetings in Farmington and Mt. Vernon organized by activists working under the banner of Maine Indivisible. The groups have held similar "empty chair" events for Sen. Susan Collins.
The Belfast search party additionally took issue with the congressman's refusal to state his positions in advance of key votes on reproductive rights, internet privacy and environmental regulations.
Protester Meredith Bruskin said Poliquin, who represents Maine's 2nd District, voted for bills supported by President Donald Trump 92 percent of the time (in key votes, Poliquin voted with the Republican majority 13 out of 14 times since Trump took office, or 92.9 percent of the time).
"To be fair, there are some bills under Fish and Wildlife that he's supported that are going against the grain of (reducing environmental regulations)," Bruskin said. "But that's 8 percent."
Petra Hall suggested to her fellow protesters that they use the word "protections" instead of "regulations."
"When they say regulations, these are things that protect our environment and our health," she said. "You frame it the other way and people say, 'We don't need those things.'"
The group continued its circuit of downtown, occasionally flagging down an unsuspecting pedestrian to ask if they had seen Bruce Poliquin.
Poliquin's Press Secretary Brendan Conley on April 21 said the congressman on the day of the protest held a round-table discussion with local community leaders, rode along with the Penobscot County sheriff and met with deputies, and stopped by a local business in Bangor.
"In the past two weeks, while Congress was in recess, Congressman Poliquin has literally traveled from end-to-end of Maine's 2nd Congressional District," Conley said. "... from a mill in Oxford County to a grand opening of a veterans center in Caribou, and from Bangor to Lewiston-Auburn."
He added Poliquin has been "working hard meeting with hundreds of constituents, and visiting with local businesses across Maine to discuss his commitment in Congress to growing jobs and fighting for our veterans and seniors."
Additionally, he said, the congressman's office has sent out press releases, media advisories, Facebook posts, and Twitter posts about all of this activity during the past two weeks.