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Two west-end Toronto city councillors – including an ally of Mayor John Tory – are facing charges under Ontario’s Municipal Elections Act for allegedly failing to properly document $26,000 each in campaign expenses from the 2014 election.

After a year-long probe by its anti-rackets branch, the Ontario Provincial Police announced one non-criminal charge each on Friday for Mark Grimes, who was re-elected last month in Ward 3 (Etobicoke-Lakeshore), and Justin Di Ciano, who declined to run after the provincial government cut Toronto’s council in half, combining his ward with that of Mr. Grimes.

Mr. Grimes, 57, a veteran councillor and one of just three Mr. Tory endorsed in the 2018 campaign, is also chairman of the board of Exhibition Place, the city’s waterfront fairgrounds. Mr. Grimes frequently supports Mr. Tory’s initiatives in council.

Neither councillor agreed to be interviewed, but their lawyers issued statements dismissing the charges. They are due in court on Dec. 19. The maximum penalties if convicted include up to $25,000 in fines and a two-election ban on running for municipal office.

The OPP says the charges for “filing a document ... that is incorrect or does not otherwise comply” with the act come after Toronto’s integrity commissioner referred allegations to them. OPP Staff-Sergeant Carolle Dionne would say only that the charges relate to campaign expenses worth $26,000 each. That’s more than half the total campaign spending limit for each councillor’s ward in 2014.

A statement from Mr. Grimes’s lawyer, Peter Brauti – well-known in Toronto for his work defending police officers accused of crimes – cast doubt on the motivation for the investigation.

“Councillor Grimes has done nothing wrong," the statement reads. “An allegation has been made that he should have made additional financial disclosure for his campaign from four years ago. No such disclosure was required. There is no credible evidence to support the allegation, which was made for political purposes.”

Scott Fenton, a veteran criminal defence lawyer working for Mr. Di Ciano, said the probe was a waste of money: “Our client looks forward to setting the record straight on any alleged clerical errors in his 2014 campaign expense return. The real offence here is the extraordinary waste of scarce government resources spent chasing down minor alleged oversights regarding a long-forgotten municipal election campaign.”

In an e-mail, Mr. Tory declined to comment, noting that both Mr. Di Ciano and Mr. Grimes have said they will fight the charges.

Earlier this year, the CBC reported allegations that the councillors' 2014 campaigns used polling without declaring the full cost as election rules require -- and that was paid for by a developer. Both have denied the allegations, which have not been proven in court.

The polls were allegedly conducted by Campaign Research, the firm of Nick Kouvalis, the former aide to the late mayor Rob Ford who has advised Mr. Tory for the past two campaigns. The firm’s CEO, Eli Yufest, declined to comment on Friday.

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