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Cain ad featuring Valley loggers sparks PLC; Jackson weighs in

MAINE — A political ad, which compares the logging skills of a U.S. Congressman to a statue of Paul Bunyan, has elicited the disapproval of a Maine logging organization.

Screen shot of a September 2016 political television ad endorsed by Emily Cain in which northern Maine loggers express opinions about U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin.

Screen shot of a September 2016 political television ad endorsed by Emily Cain in which northern Maine loggers express opinions about U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin.

Professional Logging Contractors of Maine has taken issue with a television ad which Maine State Senator Emily Cain (D- District 30) endorsed. Cain is challenging republican U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin (ME-02) for his seat in the November election.

Cain for Congress paid for the ad.

“In the ad, three men identified as Maine loggers criticize Poliquin for allegedly abusing a state current use tax law. They go on to state that the law is designed to benefit loggers, and that Poliquin is not a logger and the Paul Bunyan statue in Bangor has probably cut down more trees and paid more taxes than Poliquin,” according to a press release issued by the Professional Logging Contractors of Maine. “We have asked the (Emily Cain) campaign to remove the ad and to base any future ads which comment on the logging industry in our state on the facts and the general consensus in the industry rather than a skewed minority opinion leveraged to achieve a political result.”

The three men who appear in the ad are northern Maine loggers Gerald Jandreau, Ben Pelletier and Camden Jackson – all from the St. Francis / Allagash area. The ad takes aim at what the men deem to be Poliquin’s misuse of Maine’s Tree Growth Tax Law.

The Cain political ad states that Poliquin “made millions on Wall Street, then he came back to Maine and abused the Tree Growth Program to pay just $21 in taxes on his ocean-front estate.”

Enacted by the Maine legislature in 1972, the The Maine Tree Growth Tax Law “provides for the valuation of land that has been classified as forest land on the basis of productivity value, rather than on just value,” according to the Department of Maine Revenue Services.

As a result, a million-dollar Maine oceanfront property which Poliquin enrolled in the Tree Growth program, qualified for the greatly reduced tax charge.

“This is just another political trick by Emily Cain to mislead Maine voters,” Michael Byerly, Poliquin’s campaign spokesperson, wrote in a Friday morning email to the Fiddlehead Focus / St. John Valley Times. “A third-generation Mainer, Congressman Poliquin understands the needs of the forest industry. That is why he has introduced and supported bills to help strengthen and grow the logging industry.”

Former Maine Senate Majority Leader and current Maine Senate candidate Troy Jackson (D – Allagash) is a longtime Allagash logger whom the PLC recognized in 2013 with a Legislator of the Year award.

He is also Camden Jackson’s father.

“While the PLC is a good organization, they don’t have the right to tell any other loggers what they can and cannot do. They don’t have a monopoly on logging,” Jackson said. “I’m a supporter of PLC, but I think they’re wrong on this. They don’t get to say that ‘because we’re a big group of loggers that other loggers can’t have their opinion- and that’s the case here.”

“Since 1995 the PLC has been the voice of Maine’s Logging industry,” according to the PLC website.

According to the PLC, their members “are responsible for 75 percent of the timber that is harvested from Maine’s forests annually.” A representative from PLC said Friday morning, Sept. 30, that the organization’s membership comprises 2,600 of about 4,000 total logging professionals (70 percent) in Maine. Those numbers include truck drivers, mechanics and other related employees.

Jackson said this figure does not apply to loggers in northern Maine.

“Most of the (loggers) that I know in northern Maine are not (members of) PLC,” Jackson said. “They don’t even represent 25 percent of the people in our area … not the owner operator type of contractor that we have in our area, the guy that has a truck and drives it himself.”

“On top of that, the commercial is accurate,” Jackson added. “I don’t see the benefit of a millionaire getting a $21 dollar tax bill.”

In their press release, the PLC claimed a stance of political neutrality.

“The PLC does not endorse political candidates, but the organization is charged with representing the interests of Maine’s loggers and is deeply concerned that this ad misrepresents the views and policy priorities of loggers in the state of Maine.”

However, the PLC also provided an extensive defense of Poliquin’s policies in the press release, stating: “Congressman Poliquin has supported many policies important to Maine loggers and been responsible and engaged on issues of importance to the industry including working to preserve access for loggers in the Katahdin Region where a new national monument has been established, fighting to require federal regulators to consider biomass fuels as carbon neutral, advocating for highway and trucking regulations favorable to logging firms and to family logging businesses and introducing a bill which will sustain family logging operations for years to come.”

The PLC did not address Cain’s political record in the press release.

The political ad can be seen on YouTube at this link and below this article. (Editor’s note: While the Fiddlehead Focus / St. John Valley Times does not endorse one candidate over another, it is appropriate to show this political ad here as it relates directly to this article.)

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