What a disappointment to have to report that Rep. Clinton Collamore of Waldoboro was indicted on charges he forged documents to receive state money for his campaign.
While he is innocent until proven guilty, that is the standard for the courts, not the Legislature. Collamore should explain himself to the constituents of House District 45 and the rest of the state or resign, or possibly both.
We must hold our elected representatives to a higher standard. There is no room for dishonesty or cut corners when it comes to the use of the people’s money.
If he is found guilty, this irresponsible act could hurt the Maine Clean Election Act. It is exactly what the people of Maine did not need in dealing with elections.
This is an important program for the state.
The Maine Clean Election Act created a voluntary program of full public financing of political campaigns for candidates running for Governor, State Senator or State Representative, according to Maine Commission of Government Ethics and Election Practices. Maine voters passed this legislation through a citizen initiative in 1996.
“To become eligible, candidates must demonstrate community support through collecting a minimum number of checks or money orders of $5 …to the Maine Clean Election Fund. After a candidate begins to receive MCEA funds from the State, he or she cannot accept private contributions, and almost all goods and services received must be paid for with MCEA funds.”
Clean Election candidates have argued they want to serve the people of Maine, and they use public funding for their campaigns to avoid being beholden to special interests and private donors.
It is not perfect. Opponents have long argued that taxpayers should not pay to fund campaigns for candidates they do not support.
Committing violations while seeking office in Maine erodes the public trust, and that has been found to be in short supply in recent years as some candidates push conspiracy theories and erroneously argue elections have been stolen. We simply cannot afford laziness and dishonesty in meeting the standards put in place under election law.
Collamore should have known the great responsibility he was taking on in seeking office.
While seeing people arrested and punished may not be a pleasant thing, the one positive take-away is that the system does work. The fact that violations are caught and elected officials are held accountable for their actions should give us a stronger sense of trust in our elections and democracy. Each case must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
And let this serve as a warning to those who will run for office in the future.
The editorial board of The Courier-Gazette and The Camden Herald collaborate on issues of public interest.