TORONTO, CANADA – Greek-Canadian Jim Karygiannis, a city council member in Toronto was kicked out of office on November 6 following months of “fighting with city officials over questionable election expenses,” the Toronto Sun reported.
City clerk Ulli Watkiss made the announcement via press release which said she “served notice to Karygiannis that he is no longer the councillor for Ward 22 due to the supplementary financial statement he filed for the municipal election last year,” CBC reported, adding that “under the Municipal Elections Act, every candidate is required to file a financial statement for the election,” and “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.”
Karygiannis “exceeded the expense limit for ‘parties and other expressions of appreciation’ by $25,962.70 in the last municipal election,” the Sun reported, adding that “under the Municipal Elections Act, Karygiannis was only permitted to spend $6,128 or 10% of his allotted total — $61,207.95 — on parties and other thank yous,” and “according to his own audited financial statements, the long-time Liberal politician spent $32,083.50 on such expenses during the 2018 campaign.”
“The Act does not give the City Clerk any latitude or discretion on this matter,” Watkiss said in her statement, the Sun reported.
“In early July, the city’s compliance audit committee ordered that Karygiannis be subject to a compliance audit following an application from long-time City Hall watcher Adam Chaleff,” the Sun reported, noting that “the audit was put on hold when Karygiannis appealed the ruling to Ontario Superior Court on constitutional grounds” and “a court date was set for next February,” while “the Compliance Audit Committee ordered a second audit in mid-July.”
Karygiannis told the Sun on Wednesday evening “that upon close examination of his Supplementary Financial statement, it has been ascertained that there was a ‘clerical error’ in completing the paperwork.”
“I am in contact with my solicitor and auditor in order to correct the error,” he told the Sun. “I look forward to being re-instated as the City of Toronto Councillor for Ward 22.”
On November 7, one day after the announcement of his dismissal, Karygiannis told the Toronto Star, “I’m looking to come back and serve my constituents. The phone calls have not stopped, the emails have not stopped, and the conversations with my constituents have not stopped. I’m looking forward to returning sometime in the near future in order to represent my constituents.”
Karygiannis ran in a close race against Norm Kelly, a veteran councillor and only declared $43,812 of his $61,207.95 spending limit in his financial statements, the Sun reported, adding that “he declared another $146,645.67 as expenses not subject to the limit, including $81,000 worth of honoraria to 18 people” and “those honoraria were paid to an immigration lawyer, his senior legislative assistant, a would-be Liberal candidate and an intern with the Liberal Party of Canada, among others.”
Fundraising activities were expensed at $47,259 and included “a BBQ with a lion dance before the election and a pre-Christmas, post-election event at Santorini Grill,” the Sun reported.
Watkiss’ statement noted that “the City Clerk will report to Toronto City Council at its next meeting on November 26, outlining next steps with respect to declaring the seat vacant, as prescribed by the City of Toronto Act, 2006. In the interim, staff in the Ward 22 office will continue to support residents in the ward, and will report to the City Clerk until the office is filled by appointment or by-election.”