Republican U.S. Senate candidate Max Linn told Republican officials in two towns last Sunday that he hadn’t run as a Democrat for Congress and hadn’t backed Barack Obama’s presidential bid.

Both assertions are untrue.

As an aspiring politician in Florida a decade ago, the wealthy financial planner didn’t merely flirt with the opposition party, he competed in a Democratic congressional primary, wrote a $2,300 check to Obama’s campaign and even wrote a book hailing Obama.

At filmed campaign appearances in Windham and Scarborough, Maine newcomer Linn said his opponent, state Sen. Eric Brakey of Auburn, had spread “a list of lies” about his political past.

But records show that Brakey’s four charges, cited on a sheet distributed to Republican officials attending the sessions, were true, bolstered by far more than the handful of news articles that Brakey cited. Government websites in Florida and Washington show Linn’s political activity in detail.

Brakey said he handed out the sheet because Linn had been saying “a lot of nasty things about me,” so Brakey’s campaign figured “let’s just put out the facts.”

Linn, a Bar Harbor financial planner who jumped into the June 12 primary last month, specifically denied each of the charges levied by Brakey at the sessions in each town. He could not be reached for comment Tuesday or Wednesday.

But Matt McDonald, senior strategist for Linn, said Wednesday that the denial may have been off the mark but the reality is that Linn has been a Republican for nearly his entire life.

He said Linn grew disillusioned with the Republican Party during President George W. Bush’s tenure when promises to end the war, cut spending and practice “compassionate conservatism” never panned out. So Linn flirted with alternatives for, MacDonald said, 11 months.

Still, Linn said in comments caught on videos that he “did not run as a Democrat” in Florida.

But Federal Election Commission reports show Linn registered as a Democratic candidate for Congress in Florida’s 10th District in March 2008.

Linn stayed in the race long enough to lose a three-way primary in August 2008 in which he got a quarter of the vote and came in last. He remained listed as a possible Democratic candidate in 2010 until he terminated his campaign in June 2009.

Linn also said that he did not work to elect Obama. But FEC records show that on Oct. 9, 2007, Linn wrote a $2,300 check to Obama’s campaign. Obama was locked in a tough battle with U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton at the time.

A month earlier, Linn wrote a book titled “2008 America’s Turning Point: Barack Obama – Because America Needs to Believe Again.” It doesn’t appear to be available any longer but remains listed on Google Books along with a photograph of its cover.

In June 2008, Linn suspended his congressional campaign briefly and issued a statement to the press that said, “Max feels strongly that the best action he can take for the people of this community is to throw his full support and energy behind Sen. Barack Obama.”

“With an impact much greater than one additional Democratic Congressman, President Obama will be in a position to deliver on issues like health care, ending the war in Iraq and providing greater security to homeowners here in Florida,” Linn’s statement at the time said.

Linn also told Maine Republican officials that Brakey lied when he said Linn was pro-choice. “I’m not pro-abortion,” Linn said.

Yet when Linn ran for governor of Florida in 2006 on the Reform Party ticket, his campaign website said that he believes “that government should stay out of our citizens’ private lives, as much as possible, in matters of personal freedom. I feel that women have the right to choose whether to bring a life into this world and I would uphold the abortion laws as they now stand.”

He said then that he would adhere to “a strict separation of church and state, as championed by our Founding Fathers.”

McDonald said that Linn, 58, was pro-choice but changed his mind after spending years traveling the world and seeing the vast diversity of life across the globe.

With age and more perspective, he said, Linn came to embrace a pro-life position that goes beyond the issue of abortion to include the need to provide children with quality education and adults with both good jobs and safe communities.

Linn also denied Brakey’s claim that he had only lived in Maine through a single winter. Brakey cited a January 2017 story in the Mount Desert Islander that mentioned Linn was spending his first winter there after coming for many summers.

“These are just provably false statements,” Brakey said. He said candidates have a responsibility to tell the truth and to own up to their past.

Given Linn’s resources, though, Brakey may still face a tough battle in the primary to select the Republican candidate to take on U.S. Sen. Angus King in the Nov. 6 general election. King is a first-term independent and former governor.

Linn said in an online interview with a friendly Republican that he is “diametrically opposed” to both Brakey and King, insisting they support open borders and a “globalist agenda” that’s weak on trade, soft on crime and flimsy on defense.

Linn portrays himself as the candidate of Donald Trump and has sought to zing Brakey for refusing in 2016 to vote for Trump. But Brakey, who favored U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky in the primaries, said he actually did vote for Trump.

“It was him or Hillary Clinton,” Brakey said. “I had misgivings about both.”

“While my vote was primarily motivated by my opposition to Hillary Clinton, I was also very supportive for Trump’s calls for an America First foreign policy and less nation building abroad,” Brakey said.

“In his first year in office,” Brakey said, “I believe President Trump has done a good job under difficult circumstances: passing tax reform, cutting regulations and appointing strong constitutionalists to the courts. I support our president and I look forward to working with him to put America First.”

Still, Linn has claimed that Brakey voted for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party’s presidential candidate in 2016. Brakey said that’s not true.

“I’m the only one in this U.S. Senate race who voted for, and supported, Donald Trump. The only one,” Linn said on Twitter recently.

Brakey fired back quickly.

“I’m proud to be the only one in this U.S. Senate race who never voted for and supported, Barack Obama. The only one,” Brakey responded.

McDonald said the thrust of Brakey’s message – that Linn is not really a Republican – is completely wrong.

“It’s fake. It’s fake news,” McDonald said.

He said it shows the desperation Brakey’s “pro-dope and anti-Trump” campaign has as it faces an unexpected Republican opponent who stands with the president and opposes open borders and the drugs they allow to flow in.

McDonald said Linn was attracted to Obama’s message of hope and opposition to the ongoing wars in the Middle East. But he soon realized that the Democrat was no better at keeping his campaign promises than Bush was.

By the time Linn moved to Maine in 2011, he registered as a Republican. It’s not clear exactly when he returned to the fold. But his only campaign donations to Democrats came in 2006 and 2007. Before and after that, he supported Republicans.

Linn’s Florida campaign with the Reform and Democratic parties came at a time when he was at loggerheads with the Florida Republican Party.

When Linn ran for governor of Florida in 2006 as the candidate of the Reform Party, created by Texas billionaire Ross Perot in 1992 as a vehicle for his longshot campaign for the White House, he wound up spending more than $1 million and securing only a tiny fraction of the vote.

That year, Linn wrote on his campaign website that he “had to face the reality that the Republican leadership in Florida and America has totally abandoned its principles and values: fiscal responsibility, limited government, and separation of church and state. Currently, the Republican leadership is fiscally irresponsible, inappropriately intrusive in our personal lives, and encourages the excessive expansion of government itself.”

He didn’t have any use for the Democrats either, calling them “our modern socialist party” that “has done nothing and shown no leadership in addressing the irresponsible spending, abuse of power and ‘good ole boy’ cronyism and corruption of the Republican Party.”

Linn wrote that both parties “have merged into one. Big money, big corporations, lobbyists and special interests now dominate and control politics” in the capitals of both Florida and the country as a whole.

He said people who believe the promises of either party are just like Charlie Brown falling for Lucy’s trick of pulling away the football at the last second and wind up, like the immortal comic strip figure, “flat on our backs again and again and again.”

As the Reform Party’s candidate for governor, Linn called himself “a fiscal conservative” who is “socially progressive.”

Most of Linn’s 2006 campaign website is available in the web archives, including two cartoons that cast him as a superhero fighting against standardized testing in schools and in opposition to insurance companies that refuse to pay hurricane damage claims.

Darryl Paulson, a retired government professor from the University of South Florida-St. Petersburg, said Wednesday that Linn is “a political opportunist par excellent.”

“Few people have the distinction of being a candidate of the Reform, Democrat and Republican Party,” Paulson said. “It is not that people are seeking Linn out; he is seeking a political party that presents the best opportunity for his ambition.”

After observing that Linn “is reincarnated as a Republican in the Maine Senate primary,” Paulson said, “Florida’s loss is Maine’s gain. Actually, Florida’s gain is Maine’s loss.”

Linn has been campaigning for the past few weeks, making appearances across the state. He also regularly speaks out on Twitter.

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