AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine regulators seen a troubling sample in the summertime that led to felony expenses towards a lawmaker. Penalties got here greater than a month after he gained his seat utilizing allegedly ill-gotten taxpayer cash to marketing campaign.
Newly elected Rep. Clinton Collamore, D-Waldoboro, was indicted in December on 20 felony forgery expenses and 13 misdemeanors after an investigation by Maine’s marketing campaign finance watchdog discovered greater than 30 signatures on the kinds he used to qualify for the state’s Clear Election program weren’t real.
The indictment was made public in a Tuesday memo, shedding mild on the small workforce of simply two fee staffers tasked with reviewing 30,000 small-dollar contributions each two years. Some fraud is detected and audits of this system are routinely carried out after each two-year state marketing campaign cycle, however Collamore initially slipped via these checks.
He bought greater than $14,000 in marketing campaign funds beneath the Clear Election system, which permits candidates to submit rounds of $5 contributions in trade for tranches of public marketing campaign funding. He certified for preliminary funds final April and gained six extra by the summer season.
In April, Collamore submitted roughly 130 qualifying contributions, Jonathan Wayne, the ethics fee’s govt director, wrote in an e-mail. Though the later overview discovered that 4 of these signatures have been inauthentic, he stated no sample was detected because the fee’s two registrars raced to course of supplies from different candidates.
These staffers are beneath “super time strain” at this level, Wayne stated. The deadline for candidates to qualify for preliminary Clear Election funding is April 20 and as soon as a candidate submits their contributions and the kinds wherein contributors attest to their funds, the fee has solely three enterprise days to determine whether or not or to not pay the candidate.
Collamore’s sample of allegedly fraudulent signatures was not detected till the summer season, when he had submitted extra of them. Proof paperwork connected to the indictment present photos of the kinds in query, the place dozens of contributors’ names are written in the identical kind of print that Collamore used for his personal identify on the prime of the kinds.
The lawmaker seems to have deleted his marketing campaign Fb web page between Tuesday and Wednesday after the information got here out. However he was working an aggressive social media effort to usher in contributions, telling supporters early final 12 months their assist was “crucial for the clear election course of.” He beat Republican Lynn Madison by roughly 300 votes.
Fee staffers have been in a position to catch one other Home candidate, Republican Matthew Toth of Sanford, who submitted not less than 12 false signatures with not less than three of these individuals by no means contributing to his marketing campaign. Toth was denied funding in April, withdrew from the November election and was indicted on 13 felony expenses and two misdemeanors final month.
The ethics fee routinely audits campaigns that take Clear Election funds, posting the outcomes each two years. The newest one in 2020 largely discovered minor errors and led the auditor to recommend coverage clarification round early-campaign mileage reimbursements and adjustments in how unpaid obligations are reported by campaigns.
Information of Collamore’s indictment led Home Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross, D-Portland, to name for his resignation on Tuesday. He has referred inquiries to a lawyer, Richard Elliott of Boothbay Harbor, who didn’t return a telephone name looking for touch upon Wednesday. He had not resigned his seat by Wednesday night, although Democrats eliminated him from an inventory of members.
However he didn’t come to a Wednesday orientation assembly of the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife Committee, which he sits on. Earlier than work began, Rep. Scott Landry, D-Farmington, the panel’s co-chair, turned Collamore’s nameplate round whereas discussing the case with others.
“I don’t assume he’s displaying up,” Landry stated.
BDN author David Marino contributed to this report.