Erstwhile-Rep. Clinton Collamore Jr. (D-Waldoboro) resigned his recently won seat in the Maine House of Representatives today after pleading not guilty to state charges of defrauding program that uses taxpayer dollars to pay for campaigns.
Collamore entered his plea at the Lincoln County courthouse in Wiscasset.
The Maine law that provides taxpayer funding for politicians requires them to get a certain number of politicians before they receive the funding.
Prosecutors alleged that Collamore falsified 30 – or half – of his qualifying signatures to receive public funding for his campaign last fall. The indictment claims twenty counts of aggravated forgery, twelve counts of unsworn falsification and one count of violating Maine’s campaign finance law.
Collamore told the court that he is not a career politician and should have paid closer attention to details of his filing requirements.
Prior his brief tenure in the state House, Collamore had served as a Waldoboro selectman for 18 years. In November, he beat his Republican opponent by 300 votes.
House Speaker Rachel Talbot Ross (D-Portland) called for Collamore’s resignation and stripped him of his one committee assignment on the Inland Fisheries and Wildlife panel two weeks ago. House leadership will set the date of the special election to fill Collamore’s seat.
“I think it’s best for the people who voted for me that I resign at this time,” Collamore said. “I’ve been taken off the committee, as every one of you know, so I can’t be effective and if you can’t be effective, it’s no good for the voters. So they need someone who can be effective.”
Since the legislature was seated in December, Collamore received over $6,000 in pay and expenses, CBS-13 reported. Collamore’s attorney Richard Elliott said he would be returning these funds to the state.
Leadership of Maine’s GOP told The Maine Wire that they are currently talking to multiple candidates about running to flip the House District 45, a seat that had previously been held by Jeffrey Evangelos, an independent who often voted with Democrats.
The program Collamore is alleged to have defrauded is called the Maine Clean Elections Act — so-named because of the belief among some that the program reduces the influx of “dirty” money into campaigns.
However, in the years since the Act was passed, the flow of outside dollars into Maine’s elections has only increased, suggesting the law has failed in its goal, despite its popularity.
For example, Senate President Troy Jackson (D-Aroostook) ran in 2022 as a “clean elections” candidate, yet outside interests spent more than $750,000 boosting him and attacking his opponent.