As part of a plea deal, prosecutors dismissed 20 additional felony aggravated forgery charges against Clinton Collamore.
In this Feb. 16, 2023, file photo, Clinton Collamore speaks to reporters outside the Wiscasset courthouse alongside Richard Elliott, his attorney. Credit: Michael Shepherd / BDN

Former Maine Rep. Clinton Collamore of Waldoboro will serve 72 hours jail time and complete 100 hours of community service on 11 misdemeanor charges of unsworn falsification and one of criminal violation of the Maine Clean Election Act.

Twenty additional felony charges of aggravated forgery were dismissed by state prosecution in a plea deal made at the Lincoln County Courthouse in Wiscasset on Monday.

Collamore’s three days in jail will be served in October through the state’s alternative sentencing program for first and second time offenders of non-violent offenses.

He was elected as a Democrat in November 2022 to represent House District 45, which consists of Bremen, Friendship, Louds Island, Waldoboro, and Washington. He defeated Lynn Madison, R-Waldoboro, for the seat.

Collamore was indicted on the 33 charges on Dec. 15, 2023, alleging that he signed the names of other people himself on forms needed to qualify for taxpayer-funded campaign money through the act, which provides funds to candidates who collect $5 minimum contributions and signatures from at least 60 registered voters in their district.

At a February arraignment, he pleaded not guilty to all 33 charges. He resigned from his seat that month and returned his Clean Election Act campaign funds, along with his salary from Augusta for the previous month. Two dispositional conferences with the prosecutor’s office followed.

In a statement to the court on Tuesday after his plea was accepted, Collamore said his misdemeanors resulted from people making legitimate donations to his campaign and asking him to “take care of the paperwork.”

He said he had no intent to defraud the program, a statement he and his attorney, Richard Elliott of the Boothbay Harbor firm Elliott & Elliott, have maintained since his first court appearance.

“I’m human, I made a mistake, and I’m very sorry,” Collamore said Monday.

Superior Court Justice Daniel Billings told the courtroom that, while Collamore’s sentence is lighter than others handed down for violations of the act in the past, the case is “significantly different” from those that have come before.

“The state’s investigation here indicates the contributions were actually made,” Billings said. “The issue was with the forms and the unsworn falsification, which correctly, in the court’s view, is an important part of the process and appropriately gives rise to the misdemeanor charges that Mr. Collamore has pled to.”

Billings said that because the act uses taxpayer money to fund campaigns, it needs to have accountability and accurate paperwork to guide the use of funds.

“The court believes that the sentence that was agreed to by Mr. Collamore or his counsel and the [attorney general]’s office appropriately takes into account what actually occurred here and balances the seriousness of the charges with Mr. Collamore’s actual conduct, the actual intent, and his otherwise conduct as a productive member of society,” Billings said.

In an interview at the courthouse after his sentencing, Collamore said he intends to leave the Democratic Party as a result of the case.

Collamore said he was alerted to the issues on his signature forms by the ethics commission when his submissions were being processed and self-reported to the Maine Ethics Commission and the Maine attorney general’s office prior to the election.

He said he wanted to hold a press conference prior to the November election but was told not to by members of his party because it might affect election outcomes.

“It was someone in the Democratic Party” who advised him not to come forward publicly, Collamore said, declining to name the individual or position in the party.

“Today, I wish I’d done it anyway,” he said.

The ethics commission knew about the signatures and told him it would not take action until after the election, according to Collamore. Elliott said he believed this is a policy on the part of the commission to avoid involvement in electoral outcomes.

The Maine Ethics Commission did not return a request for comment Wednesday.

Asked to comment on the Tuesday special election to fill his former seat, Collamore said, “Just ‘good luck’ to whoever’s running.”

This story appears through a media partnership with The Lincoln County News.