Maine Rep. Clinton Collamore, D-Waldoboro, faces 33 charges of violating the Maine Clean Election Act following a Dec. 15 indictment alleging he forged signatures to qualify for state campaign funding last year.
Collamore, elected in November, represents House District 45, which consists of Bremen, Friendship, Louds Island, Waldoboro, and Washington.
The case, State of Maine v. Clinton E. Collamore Sr., charges Collamore with 20 counts of aggravated forgery, 11 counts of unsworn falsification, and one count of criminal violation of the Maine Clean Election Act.
Aggravated forgery is a Class B felony, carrying a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. Unsworn falsification is a Class D felony, punishable by up to 364 days incarceration and a $2,000 fine.
Violation of the Clean Election Act is a Class E crime, subject to a fine of up to $10,000 and a return of all funds given to the candidate, along with six months incarceration and a $1,000 fine from the state.
On Tuesday, Jan. 31, Collamore referred requests for comment to his lawyer, Richard Elliott, of the Boothbay Harbor firm Elliott & Elliott. The firm did not return requests for comment.
Matthew Toth, of Sanford, an unsuccessful Republican candidate for House District 143, was also indicted for signature fraud on Dec. 5.
The Maine Clean Election Act provides public campaign funds to candidates who collect $5 minimum contributions and signatures from at least 60 registered voters in their district. Collamore received $14,274 over seven payments beginning last April.
The taxpayer-funded program paid out over $4.5 million total last year, its highest figure ever and the first over $4 million, according to an overview document. From that total, $1.7 million of those funds went to House of Representatives candidates. In 2020, the previous election, the program paid candidates over $3.8 million.
Two hundred and fourteen candidates qualified for funding in 2022.
Jonathan Wayne, executive director of the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices, said at a Monday, Jan. 30 commission meeting that the organization has referred five prior cases to the attorney general’s office since the program began in 2000.
“We believe misuse of these public funds is rare,” Wayne said.
Two of those previous cases involved signature forgery. Bruce Ladd submitted seven forged signatures in his run for House District 133 in 2008 and served 30 days in jail.
Peter Throumoulos forged 150 signatures for two state Senate campaigns in 2004 and 2006; he was sentenced to four years with all but 60 days suspended and three years probation.
The commission has two registrars on staff who review all signatures submitted by candidates. Toth allegedly forged 12 signatures he needed to be eligible for funding, which disqualified him from the race when discovered.
Collamore, however, turned in a handful of questionable signatures within a batch of 130, well over the minimum he needed to qualify, according to Wayne.
Along with signatures made in Collamore’s own handwriting, he signed two postal money orders with the names of other people, according to the indictment.
“The commission staff is waiting to see the outcome of the criminal prosecution before recommending any enforcement action,” Wayne said in a Jan. 23 memo.
Collamore faced Lynn Madison, R-Waldoboro, in the general election. Before running for state office, Collamore served on the Waldoboro Select Board for over 18 years.
The commission’s Jan. 30 meeting can be viewed as a recording on the office’s YouTube channel.
Collamore’s arraignment is set for 1 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 16 at the Lincoln County Courthouse.