Protesters stage hunt for 'no-show' congressman

By Ethan Andrews | Apr 20, 2017
Photo by: Ethan Andrews Protesters stage a tongue-in-cheek search for U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin in downtown Belfast April 20.

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.

Comments (2)
Posted by: Patricia Keyes | Apr 24, 2017 09:58

He attends our Waldo County Republican Committee meetings at least 2 times a year, and often catches at least 1 of our 2 local fundraising dinners. The speaker portion of our meetings are open to all registered Republicans and to visitors. Since his supporters work during the day and collapse in exhaustion most of the time at night, they don't really miss him on a weekday in the streets of Belfast. His positions are generally the positions of the Republican party, so no surprise or outrage there when he voted Republican, as the majority who elected him EXPECT him to do. THANK YOU FOR THE STATISTICS!

 He is extremely considerate in his use of time, answers questions from the audience, and exits when his time is up to be considerate of our group's agenda. He is doing his best to be available to the most constituents possible in the least amount of time, which unfortunately means he goes to larger population centers. (BTW Neal, you do know that it's a 6 hour drive from Caribou to Lewiston? How many towns have you visited between those locations? I have friends in Providence, RI who only live 4.5 hours away!)

Accusing him of not being available, while it makes for a cute publicity stunt, is kind of not accurate. His staff is very responsive by phone and mail. I've got a couple of letters on issues from him in the last few months that I didn't even ask for! And there's always security issues. None of us rightly know how his schedule is altered to deal with threats from radicals. I guess my point is, if you want to see him, and you ask through his office, you have a pretty good chance of doing so if you're willing, like the rest of Waldo County, to travel to his scheduled events. But you have to do what anyone else has to do: go to scheduled events.

And he's a blast to talk to! He's happy to share his personal insights and giggles. But don't accuse him of being unavailable while he's working in D.C., and then if he comes home, accuse him of skipping his duties in D.C.!  He isn't God. He can't appear everywhere at once. He doesn't have the power to solve your personal problems, and he isn't going to please you all the time. Neither did Obama. He's just a man.

I think he's pretty great considering the pressure he's under and the enormity of the mess in D.C.. He actually follows other Congressmen into the bathrooms to nail them to the wall about their treatment of veterans and their stupidity with our money! Ya gotta love that!

Posted by: Neal Harkness | Apr 21, 2017 21:37

"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."

Any of those places in Waldo County?

If you wish to comment, please login.