Jim Karygiannis removed from council seat after campaign expense review
Joshua Freeman, CP24.com
Published Wednesday, November 6, 2019 4:49PM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, November 6, 2019 9:25PM EST
Jim Karygiannis has been removed as the local city councillor for Ward 22 Scarborough-Agincourt after a review found that he overspent on his 2018 campaign expenses.
City Clerk Ulli Watkiss announced the decision in a news release late Wednesday afternoon.
According to the release, the campaign spending limit for Ward 22 in the 2018 election was $61,207.95, with a maximum of 10 per cent – or $6,120.80 – to be spent for "parties and other expressions of appreciation" after voting day.
A review of Karygiannis’ expenses found that he spent $32,083.50 on parties and other expressions of appreciation, nearly five times the limit.
The Municipal Elections Act dictates that forfeiture of office is automatic if a candidate is found to have exceeded their spending limit.
“The Act does not give the City Clerk any latitude or discretion on this matter,” the city said in its release.
The move means that Karygiannis is disqualified from being elected or appointed to any office until after the 2022 municipal election.
In a statement released Wednesday evening, Karygiannis said the city clerk’s finding was the result of “a clerical error in the completing of the paperwork” for his supplementary financial statement.
“I am in contact with my solicitor and auditor in order to correct the error,” Karygiannis said in the statement. “I look forward to being reinstated as the City of Toronto Councillor for Ward 22.”
City spokesperson Brad Ross said this is the first time that a Toronto city councillor has been removed from office over their expenses.
Watkiss is expected to report to city council in Nov. 26 concerning the next steps toward declaring Karygiannis’ seat as vacant to allow for a byelection.
Staff in the Ward 22 office will continue to serve residents in the interim and will report to the city clerk’s office.
"The (city) clerk has no other recourse than to say, sorry you're not a councillor anymore," said Ward 14 Councillor Paula Fletcher.
In a brief statement, Mayor John Tory called the development “shocking” and thanked Karygiannis for his service.
“This is sudden and shocking news and an unfortunate situation for everyone involved, including the councillor, his office staff, the city clerk, and the residents he was elected to serve,” Tory said in the statement. “Councillor Karygiannis worked hard over the last five years at city hall to serve the residents of Scarborough-Agincourt. I will be working to make sure those residents continue to be well-served by the city."
Karygiannis has been a city councillor since 2014 and defeated fellow incumbent Norm Kelly by 2,649 votes to remain on council in 2018 when the Ford government decreed that the number of Toronto council seats should be cut in half.
Prior to running for council, he served as a long-time MP for Scarborough-Agincourt.