AUGUSTA – A state House candidate who is charged with attempted theft by deception plans to fight the charge and stay in the race.

Michael Hein, a Republican candidate in House District 57 in Augusta, was charged by the state Attorney General’s Office with falsifying documents and using his own money to try to qualify for public campaign financing through the Maine Clean Election Act.

Hein is accused of using his money to reach the donation threshold to qualify for public campaign financing, then falsifying forms confirming that donors had given him the $5 contributions.

The charge against Hein was incorrectly reported in initial media coverage as theft by deception. Hein is charged with attempted theft by deception, a misdemeanor punishable by as much as 364 days in jail and a $2,000 fine, according to state law.

Hein, who has a June 6 court date to answer to the charge, said he is innocent and anticipates pleading not guilty.

“I plan to stay in the race, at least through the primary, since I am not guilty of the charge,” he said.

Hein would not comment further.

The staff of Maine’s ethics commission found that Hein falsified forms signifying that donors had given him $5 in his effort to qualify for Clean Election money.

The commission denied his request for the money. Hein’s campaign, initially listed as a publicly financed campaign on the commission’s website, is now listed as a privately financed campaign.

Hein said he has decided not to appeal the ethics commission’s finding that he did not get at least 60 donations of $5 each to qualify for public campaign money.

According to documents filed with the ethics commission, Hein submitted his paperwork two days before the qualifying deadline, saying he had 67 donations, 35 of them in cash.

Jonathan Wayne, executive director of the commission, said Thursday that the commission’s staff found at least 13 donors who said they did not give Hein the $5 donations. Wayne said people who had signed the donation form said they had been told by Hein that they did not need to give him money.

The complaint by the Attorney General’s Office against Hein said he “did intentionally create or reinforce the impression” that he got qualifying contributions from “the personal funds of 67 contributors,” but that that impression was false and Hein did not believe it to be true.

Clean Election funding gives House candidates access to about $1,400 in public money for the primary campaign and $3,900 for the general election.

Hein, 42, works for Manpower Inc., a temporary employment agency. His current job is a long-term assignment as an administrative staffer for the Dirigo Health Agency in downtown Augusta.

In a letter to the editor published in the Kennebec Journal in April, Hein extolled the virtues of the state’s Clean Election Act, saying it “promotes true democracy in Maine’s legislative races.”

“For more than a decade now, Maine voters, regardless of political party affiliation, have been able to support their own local House and Senate candidates who participate in Clean Elections with a $5 contribution,” Hein wrote. “With enough of these contributions, Clean Elections candidates qualify to receive public funding help for their campaigns. Very often, this is the only way for a candidate of modest financial means to be able to run an effective, local campaign.”

Kennebec Journal Staff Writer Keith Edwards can be contacted at 621-5647 or at:

[email protected]