BIDDEFORD, Maine — With less than three weeks until the Nov. 8 election, a Biddeford resident has raised allegations that Matt Lauzon, Independent candidate for House District 12, may be constitutionally ineligible to run for the Legislature.
Christopher Quint, a media consultant who lives in District 12, is claiming that Lauzon, who is running against incumbent Democrat Martin Grohman, is ineligible to run for state representative because he has failed to establish proper Maine residency.
According to the Maine Constitution, a person who runs for the Legislature must be a resident of the state for at least one year prior to the Legislature’s first meeting in December. But court filings cited by Quint on Wednesday indicate Lauzon may have been a resident of Boston as late as February of this year.
Lauzon denies the allegation. He said he moved to Biddeford in summer 2015, and that Quint’s claim is being made to hurt his campaign.
“It’s quite sad to me that someone is resorting to this,” Lauzon said on Wednesday.
Quint cited documents pertaining to a protective order taken out by Lauzon against Gilman “Randy” Seaver, husband of Biddeford City Councilor Laura Seaver, in January. Lauzon claims Randy Seaver harassed him on Facebook and in blog posts, and began stalking him.
Lauzon’s order, which was filed on Jan. 15 in Biddeford District Court, lists his address as 151 Tremont St., Boston. An incident report filed with the Biddeford Police Department on Feb. 1 regarding a hearing pertaining to the protective order lists Lauzon as a “nonresident” at the time of filing.
“He either one, hasn’t been a resident of Maine for a full year, or, two, lied on a court document,” Quint said.
Lauzon said that at the time of the Feb. 1 complaint, he had been managing a business venture in Boston, where he attended Babson College, while maintaining residency at his mother’s house at 5 Southview Drive, Biddeford.
Lauzon’s company, Dunwello, a professional reputation management website, shut down in February. Lauzon was the company’s chief executive officer until summer 2015, and was on the company’s board of directors until July 2015, which is when he decided to take a “sabbatical” from his business and move to his mother’s house in Maine while keeping his apartment in Boston, he said.
“It’s true I continued to have the Boston apartment. I had a lease. But many people (including officials) have residency here but a second residence somewhere else,” Lauzon said Wednesday in a Facebook message.
Lauzon claims he listed his Boston address on the February complaint because he didn’t want his mother’s address affiliated with the court filings, as he was scared of retribution from members of the public. He had already received death threats, he said, and his mother had been followed around and out of town.
In October 2015, Lauzon filed a lawsuit against former Biddeford police officer Stephen Dodd, alleging Dodd sexually abused him as a teenager. The case was moved to federal court in February. Lauzon is also suing the city and Police Chief Roger Beaupre for what he claims was negligent supervision.
Lauzon said the filings against Seaver led to harassment from the public, and he began feeling unsafe, seeing private investigators outside his mother’s house.
Lauzon said he traveled to and from Biddeford and Boston frequently beginning in spring 2015, and gave up his status as CEO of Dunwello on June 28, 2015. He claims he officially moved to Biddeford on July 1, 2015, and resided in his mother’s house at 5 Southview Drive until February 2016, when he moved to 11 Free St.
Lauzon provided the Journal Tribune with a portion of his prescription purchases dating back to February 2015. He said he transferred his prescriptions to the CVS Pharmacy at 384 Elm St. in Biddeford upon his move to the city last summer.
The document provided by Lauzon confirms a purchase made at the Biddeford store as early as April 21, 2015. Purchases were also made at the Biddeford location in June, July and September 2015, according to the document, and several times between January 2016 to now.
However, the documents provided by Lauzon showing prescription purchases had some information redacted, including the address of the recipient.
The Free Street home and Lauzon’s current home at 37 South St., where he moved on Oct. 3, both lie within House District 12. The Maine Constitution stipulates that candidates for the House must reside in the district for which they are running for three months immediately prior to the election.
“I think the person making this challenge, I suspect deep down inside, they’re voicing ahead of the election on purpose,” Lauzon said. “It is what it is; it’s just what people do.”
Quint said he will be supporting Incumbent Democrat Martin Grohman. He admitted to knowing Grohman personally, but said he is bringing his accusations against Lauzon forward on his own.
“Everyone has to play by the same rules. Everyone has to adhere to the same process,” said Quint, who said he has never met Lauzon. “I’m not hiding the fact that I know Marty and our kids go to school together, but this is on my own accord. I’m doing this on my own. Marty doesn’t know that I’m doing this. I have no reason to tell him.”
“I think it’s important for voters to know that a particular candidate running for a particular House race might not have met residency requirements to serve as a representative,” Quint said.
Quint also said he intends to challenge Lauzon’s eligibility to serve in the House if he is elected.
Kristen Muszynski, spokeswoman for the Secretary of State’s Office, said on Wednesday that voters may bring challenges against candidates running in their district of residence prior to the election from the time candidates file their petitions until March 22. Lauzon originally filed his candidate registration on April 12 of this year, when he lived at 11 Free St.
Now, Muszynski said, all formal challenges must be made from within the House itself if Lauzon is elected.
“At this point, the House would be the body to review the candidate’s eligibility, and that body could decide whether or not to seat a person who won the election but did not meet the eligibility requirements,” Muszynski said.
Should he win in November, Lauzon said he is confident he can prove he has been a resident of Maine for at least a year if questioned in the House.
“I wouldn’t run for this position if there were any concerns or any questions about my eligibility for the role,” he said. “I think this is completely political fodder to try to distract people and undermine confidence in me.”