AUGUSTA — Allegations that Republican U.S. Senate candidate Max Linn’s campaign forged the signatures of dead voters to get his name on the June ballot are under review by the state Secretary of State’s Office.

The complaint, brought by the campaign of Linn’s Republican primary rival, state Sen. Eric Brakey’s campaign of Auburn, was the subject of an unusual hearing before Secretary of State Matt Dunlap on Thursday.

Brakey’s campaign is asking Dunlap to invalidate Linn’s petitions and strike his name from the June 12 primary ballot. Linn and Brakey, a state senator from Auburn, are running for the chance to challenge independent Sen. Angus King in November. Also in the race is Democrat Zak Ringelstein.

Dunlap has five days to consider the evidence once the hearing, which was temporarily suspended Thursday, is over.

Forging or duplicating signatures and falsely swearing a circulator’s oath is a Class E misdemeanor in Maine, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The deadline to submit signatures was March 15, and Dunlap’s office certified that Linn had submitted 2,248 signatures.

Brakey’s campaign claims at least six voter signatures on Linn’s petitions represent people either no longer alive or who did not sign.

Attorneys for both campaigns questioned witnesses, including some people who said their signatures were faked. Brewer resident Mark Foley said someone forged his signature and that of his son Alex Foley, who is currently living in the United Kingdom.

“I have no connection with any campaign of any kind whatsoever and neither does my son,” Foley said. “I take my voting responsibilities very seriously, I take my political reputation very seriously as any of my friends can attest. On March 10 my name and that of my son Alex were criminally forged on a petition supporting Max Linn as candidate for Republican U.S. Senate race. We did not sign those petitions – our names were forged.”

Brakey’s campaign was also represented by forensic handwriting analyst Tiffany Ford, who said “a lot of unnatural handwriting” was found on Linn’s petitions.

Linn appeared before attorneys and the media Thursday and accused Brakey’s campaign of trumping up the allegations.

“I feel so positive that I am going to be cleared on all this,” Linn said. “This is going to stop, I’m going to be in the primary and I’m going to give him a good ass-whipping.”

Linn is a financial planner with a diverse political history, including running as a Democrat for Congress and providing financial support to then-presidential candidate Barack Obama in 2008, according to Federal Elections Commission records. Linn also appears to have supported President Trump’s campaign in 2016.

Brakey, 29, belongs to the libertarian wing of the Republican Party. He launched his U.S. Senate bid last April, while Linn joined the race in January.

To qualify for a U.S. Senate primary race, a candidate needs to turn in at least 2,000 signatures from registered Maine voters.

Linn said in the hearing that he had paid as much as $18,000 to private consultants to collect signatures for his campaign, but did not appear to know many of the petition circulators.

“This isn’t one circulator forging, it’s not two circulators forging, there are eight different circulators who either (have) a petition with a dead person on it or we have an affidavit proving they did not, in fact, sign that petition,” said David Boyer, a campaign worker for Brakey.

Matt Foster, the district attorney for Hancock and Washington counties, said he was notified that a signature from his deceased father was on one of the petitions. “It was, one, kind of devastating to see somebody try to take advantage of somebody who is deceased in that way and, two, to see my dad used in that way. He would have been appalled,” Foster said.

If Dunlap rules in favor of Brakey’s campaign, Linn can appeal the decision in court.

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Scott Thistle can be contacted at 713-6720 or at:

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