September 15, 2019
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Grohman calls for state probe into ‘false’ claims made by Republican opponent

Robert F. Bukaty | AP
Robert F. Bukaty | AP
In this May 5, 2018 file photo, Mark Holbrook, a candidate for Congress, speaks at the Republican Convention in Augusta, Maine. Holbrook will challenge Democrat U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree in the November general election, where ranked-choice voting will be used for the first time in federal races.

Independent 1st Congressional District hopeful Marty Grohman asked several state agencies on Thursday to investigate whether Republican opponent Mark Holbrook violated Maine law by calling himself a psychologist, which Holbrook says he has never done intentionally.

The two are running to unseat five-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat, in a race complicated by ranked-choice voting. Grohman, a former Democrat, is seeking to use the method to overtake Holbrook among Republicans and knock off the five-term incumbent.

Grohman, a state representative from Biddeford, filed requests on Thursday with the Maine attorney general’s office, the Cumberland County District Attorney’s office, the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, and the state psychologist licensing board that Holbrook be investigated for publicly misrepresenting himself as a psychologist.

In a statement on Thursday morning, Grohman spokesman Riley Ploch called Holbrook’s messaging “deeply disturbing,” and the campaign’s requests asked the agencies to investigate Holbrook’s “advertising his false status as a psychologist.”

The word “psychologist” appears in search terms for Holbrook’s professional website and it appeared once on his campaign website until Thursday. The main part of his professional website correctly notes his state licenses as a counselor and psychological examiner.

However, he and Anne Head, commissioner of the Maine Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, said Thursday that Holbrook has never been a licensed psychologist. He has a doctoral degree in clinical psychology, but the title of psychologist is governed by state law.

Under Maine law, people who “hold themselves out to the public” as psychologists must hold the right license or face penalties from regulators. The examiner license that Holbrook holds limits him to administering and interpreting tests for job or educational placement, such as those measuring aptitudes, interests and characteristics.

Holbrook’s website says he does fitness-for-duty evaluations and pre-employment screenings — duties that fit the license he holds. His state file indicates that he has no history of disciplinary action.

On Thursday, Holbrook said the reference to “psychologist” in his professional website’s search terms was intended only to attract people who were seeking the services he can provide. He said the use of the word on his campaign website was a staffer’s mistake, and he deleted it. He said he has never held himself out as a psychologist intentionally.

“I think he’s a smarmy, loathsome politician who will say anything to get elected,” Holbrook said of Grohman.

During his two runs against Pingree in 2016 and 2018, Holbrook has been described by reporters — including at the Bangor Daily News in 2016 — as a psychologist, although he represented himself accurately in two 2016 op-eds in the Bangor Daily News.

He said on Thursday that he has asked some reporters to fix incorrect reports. Grohman’s campaign argued that those reports were evidence he held himself out as a psychologist.

It’s unclear how far Grohman’s request will go, particularly before the Nov. 6 election. Ploch said on Thursday evening that Holbrook’s record “deserves more scrutiny” after it was found that Holbrook never had a psychologist license.

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