House speaker calls on Waldoboro lawmaker to resign after he was indicted for signature fraud
A newly elected member of the Maine House of Representatives has been indicted for allegedly forging multiple signatures to obtain public funds through Maine's campaign financing program.
Rep. Clinton Collamore, a Democrat from Waldoboro, is facing 33 counts, including aggravated forgery and criminal violation of the Maine Clean Election Act, according to an indictment sought by the Attorney General's Office last month.
Collamore is accused of forging the signatures of more than two dozen people in order to receive public financing for his successful legislative campaign through the Clean Election Act.
He defeated Republican candidate Lynn Madison by nearly 300 votes in November.
According to the Maine Ethics Commission, he received more than $14,000 through the program.
Reached by phone Tuesday, Collamore declined to comment and referred a reporter to his attorney. The attorney did not immediately return a message seeking comment Tuesday afternoon.
Collamore is one of 82 Democrats in the House.
In a statement provided by her spokesperson, Democratic House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross, of Portland, called for Collamore to resign immediately in light of the allegations.
The allegations against Collamore stemmed from a review by a staff member at the Maine Ethics Commission, which oversees and regulates state campaign finance laws. According to a summary of the agency probe posted Tuesday, the staffer noticed a pattern of signatures that Collamore had submitted after he sought additional public funds for his campaign. Ethics staff later determined that Collamore himself had signed the names of contributors. The staffer interviewed four people who Collamore listed as contributors and they confirmed that they did not sign the qualification form, as required by law. The agency then referred its findings to the Office of Attorney General, which later sought and obtained an indictment of Collamore on Dec. 15.
In order to qualify for public campaign financing, House candidates must collect $5 qualifying contributions from at least 60 registered voters in the candidate's district. The Ethics Commission routinely evaluates the signatures because it confirms that an actual voter made the qualifying contribution and not the candidate or someone else.
Collamore was one of two candidates flagged by the agency last year for signature irregularities. The other, Republican House candidate Mathew Toth, of Sanford, was denied public financing last April after Ethics staff suspected that a dozen qualifying signatures were not genuine. Toth abandoned his candidacy last year, but his case also referred to the AG's office, which obtained an indictment in early December.
Unlike Toth, Collamore received the initial tranche of campaign funds. Ethics staff flagged the signature irregularities last summer when they re-examined his qualification forms.
The Clean Elections program is used by about 200 candidates each year and Ethics staff does routine audits to ensure that the funds are allocated appropriately.