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Toronto Coun. Jim Karygiannis removed from office over 2018 election expenses

WATCH ABOVE: City councillors expressed shock the day after Jim Karygiannis’ removal from office after he allegedly violated finance campaign rules. Kamil Karamali reports.

The City of Toronto says Scarborough Coun. Jim Karygiannis has been removed from office over issues related to his 2018 election expenses.

In a statement sent out by officials Wednesday afternoon, Toronto City Clerk Ulli Watkiss said she gave the notice to Karygiannis based on a supplementary financial statement filed after the 2018 municipal election.

“The Act allows candidates to spend a maximum amount of money in an election. For Ward 22 in 2018, that total was $61,207.95, with a maximum of 10% – or $6,120.80 – to be spent for ‘parties and other expressions of appreciation’ after voting day,” the statement said.

TORONTO ELECTION 2018: Ward 22 Scarborough–Agincourt

“Mr. Karygiannis filed expenses under ‘parties and other expressions of appreciation’ shows that he spent $32,083.50, which on its face exceeds the expense limit by $25,962.70.”

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City staff said the clerk doesn’t have any discretion about the decision based on provincial law.

“Under s.88.23(2) of the Act, forfeiture of the office is automatic if, on its face, a financial statement shows expenses for ‘parties and other expressions of appreciation’ after voting day exceed the amount permitted,” the statement said.

READ MORE: Incumbents pitch similar crime reduction plans in battle for Scarborough-Agincourt

“Mr. Karygiannis is in default of the Act and is disqualified from being elected or appointed to any office until after the 2022 municipal election. Candidates are responsible for ensuring their financial filings are accurate and compliant with the Act.”

When asked about the announcement, Karygiannis told Global News Radio 640 Toronto he’s fighting a “clerical mistake” that was made in court.

“At the advice of a forensic auditor, a clerical mistake was made. Something was filed in the wrong line and I’m suffering the consequences because of the advice of an individual that I followed,” he said.

Toronto Mayor John Tory issued a statement in response to the decision.

“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,” he wrote.

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“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.”

Coun. Paula Fletcher said the notice from the city clerk on Wednesday was a “surprise.” She added there have been legislative changes with respect to how much can be spent on election-related parties.

“This is just the first inning on what I think will be a long and protracted, drawn out issue as to what’s going to happen in this type of a circumstance,” Fletcher said.

“It’s really uncharted waters for everybody … the clerk has no ability to do anything different under the act, under the law.”

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Karygiannis was elected as the councillor for Ward 22 Scarborough-Agincourt in 2018. He defeated former councillor Norm Kelly by less than 3,000 votes. The two faced off against each other as Toronto city council wards were slashed by the Ontario government. Karygiannis was previously elected to council in 2014 after serving as the Liberal member of parliament for Scarborough-Agincourt.

When contacted by Global News, Kelly declined to speak about the announcement Wednesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, a report will go before Toronto city council on Nov. 26 to outline what comes next in terms of declaring the ward seat vacant. In order to fill the seat, council will need to decide on whether to hold a byelection or go through an appointment process.

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Jim Karygiannis removed from Toronto city council
Jim Karygiannis removed from Toronto city council