A Democratic Maine representative says he is resigning following allegations he forged signatures to fundraise his campaign in 2022.
Rep. Clinton Collamore pleaded not guilty Thursday to 20 charges of aggravated forgery, 11 charges of unsworn falsification and one charge of criminal violation of the Maine Clean Election Act, The Lincoln County News reported. Under the Maine Clean Election Act, public funds are granted to candidates who receive at least a $5 contribution and a signature from a minimum of 60 registered district voters.
The representative was charged Dec. 15. His attorney, Richard Elliott, said the signatures on the donations were illegitimate, but that the donations themselves were genuine, according to the outlet. Elliot added that Collamore did not intend to defraud anyone, which is necessary to be charged with aggravated forgery, according to the Maine Legislature.
Collamore said he signed the names of donors if he did not have signature cards with him while accepting donations on the campaign trail, The Lincoln County News reported.
The representative later offered to self-report the signatures to the Maine Ethics Commission prior to the midterms, according to the outlet. “It’s definitely wrong, it’s not the rules, but it’s not the fraud that I think everybody thought was happening,” Collamore said.
The Maine Democrat allegedly brought in over $14,000 in the Maine Clean Election Act funds since April 2022. (RELATED: Top Michigan Democrat Allegedly Used Brain-Damaged Old Lady To Defraud Insurance)
Collamore announced he would be resigning following his arraignment Thursday, and that he will return the funds issued to him, the outlet reported. He has already returned the salary he earned in January.
Maine House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross removed Collamore from his spot on the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee on Feb. 1, The Lincoln County News reported.
“I think it’s best for the people who voted for me that I resign at this time. I’ve been taken off the committee … and I can’t be effective. And if you can’t be effective, it’s no good for the voters,” Collamore said, the outlet reported.