PORTLAND (WGME) -- A Maine lawmaker has signaled he'll resign amid accusations that he forged signatures in order to qualify for clean election funding.
State Representative Clint Collamore (D-Waldoboro) pleaded not guilty to all counts Thursday afternoon in Lincoln County Court.
The embattled lawmaker, who's been silent about the allegations since the indictment came out last month, is now saying it's time to step down.
"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."
The charges Collamore faces allege he defrauded the state's clean election system. Investigators said 30 signatures he used to qualify were fraudulent.
"Clinton had no intent whatsoever to try and defraud anybody when this all happened," Collamore's attorney Richard Elliott said. "He didn't follow the rules. Well, he's going to fully acknowledge that."
Elliott admits his client did sign the names of some supporters who contributed $5 donations to his campaign, which allowed him to qualify for the tax-payer funded system.
However, Elliott claims there was no intent by Collamore to deceive or defraud the state and that all the donations received were from real people.
"Clearly, he's either the worst criminal on the planet or he did not have the intent when he hands in the very signature of the party that doesn't match the card he has signed with his own handwriting," Elliott said. "These charges are not just that he signed the card, he's going to fully admit that. It was not used to obtain money and every single one of the donations, the $5 donations, has been verified to be real people."
Since being elected to the legislature in November, Collamore has been absent from the State House. He claimed Thursday that it was, in part, because of his health.
The CBS13 I-Team has learned Collamore was still collecting his state salary, benefits and reimbursements during that time. According to legislature's executive director, Collamore received $5,415 for his salary, $1,005 in allowance for constituent services, $440 for travel-related session allowances and reimbursements and $945 in health insurance payments.
On Thursday, Collamore said that money has now been returned to the state.
"I'm sorry I caused this by not following the rules closer," Collamore said. "But there was no intent to try and defraud anyone or anything. It makes me sick to my stomach even thinking about it."
Collamore's attorney said his client also plans to return the money he received from the clean election program, which is believed to be somewhere between $12,000-$15,000.
"There is no deal in place," Elliott said. "He's doing that because, even though he had enough signatures for it, he didn't follow the rules."
While Collamore announced he would resign Thursday afternoon, the I-Team has learned the clerk's office in Augusta has yet to receive any official paperwork from him.
Once the resignation is official, a special election for his seat would be set by the governor.
As for the case, Collamore is expected back in court on March 20 for a dispositional conference.