The Maine Republican Party is posting signs in Aroostook County that falsely claim Troy Jackson supports the "defund the police" movement.
In this April 12, 2022, file photo, Senate President Troy Jackson, D- Aroostook, conducts business at the State House in Augusta. Credit: Robert F. Bukaty / AP

The Maine Republican Party is posting signs in Aroostook County that falsely claim Democratic Sen. Troy Jackson supports defunding the police.

It’s not the first time the party has tried the tactic and comes as Republicans are forecast to make big gains in the November election.

The signs read “Vote Troy Jackson” and then “Defund The Police,” which Jackson called a “flat out lie,” according to the Portland Press Herald.

The Maine Senate president, who represents District 1, told the Press Herald he backs the police “100 percent.” When asked to provide evidence for the claim, a Republican Party spokesperson told the Press Herald that Jackson was among 10 Maine Democrats endorsed by the States Project, which is affiliated with the group Future Action Now, which two years ago drafted model legislation to states interested in studying defunding law enforcement.

No such legislation has been introduced in the Legislature, the newspaper noted.

The party promoted the signs on Twitter over the weekend.

The Maine Republican Party used the same tactic in the 2020 U.S. Senate race between Republican Susan Collins and Democrat Sara Gideon. The party posted campaign signs in the Portland area that read “Vote Sara Gideon” and then “Defund The Police,” something the former Maine House speaker had disavowed.

A Maine Republican Party sign that falsely claims Democrat Sara Gideon supported the "defund the police" movement.
A sign paid for by the Maine Republican Party that declares “Vote Sara Gideon/DEFUND THE POLICE!” stands along a road on Oct. 20, 2020, in Portland. Credit: David Sharp / AP

Those signs were deployed after the Maine Democratic Party put up “TRUMP COLLINS 2020” signs to tie the senator to Donald Trump, who lost reelection to Democrat Joe Biden. Collins was reelected to a historic fifth term.

The “defund the police” slogan became a flashpoint during the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests ignited by the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. Some supporters who used the slogan said it was less about disbanding police departments than diverting more resources to social and community services, while others used it to call for stripping law enforcement of all funding.

While Republicans used it as a cudgel to portray Democrats as “soft on crime,” few prominent lawmakers ever embraced the slogan.