Rob Ford Crack Smoking Scandal

Rob Ford Crack Smoking Scandal

Part of a series on Gawker Media. [View Related Entries]

Updated Aug 27, 2018 at 02:11PM EDT by 3kole5.

Added May 24, 2013 at 03:35PM EDT by amanda b..

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On May 16th, 2013, Gawker published an article[2] about a cellphone video allegedly showing Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking out of a glass crack cocaine pipe. The video, which was being shopped around by a group of Somali men involved in the drug trade, was said to have been filmed in late 2012 in a well-lit room in a house in the Kingsville Village area of Toronto. Ford was also seen recorded calling himself “fucking right-wing” and calling former Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau a “fag.” The author, John Cook, noted he had also seen the tape along with a photo (shown below) of Ford posing with three men, one of whom was shot and killed outside of a Toronto nightclub in March.[3] Cook revealed that the owner of the video was asking six figures for the footage. After contacting an acquaintance at CNN to see if they could help with payment, a CNN reporter in Canada called a source who had previously worked for Ford.


Soon after the Gawker piece went live[27], Canadian newspaper The Star[1] published a piece on the video, noting that two of their journalists had seen the video as well.

Notable Developments

On Twitter

Many Canadians took to Twitter to comment on the story using the hashtag #TOpoli.[13], a number of which were archived on Storify[14] by The Star staff. According to Topsy Analytics[15], #TOpoli was mentioned more than 10,800 times that day, while “Rob Ford” was tweeted over 116,000 times (shown below).

120000 Mentions of rob ford 116353 mentions (May 16 5:5pm) Top story: h-------- 80000 60000 40000 20000 May 11 May 13 May 14 May 15 May 17 ay 18 May 20 May 21 May 22

News Media Coverage

In the coming days, a multitude of news outlets and internet culture blogs picked up on the story including The Chicago Sun-Times[5], The Huffington Post Canada[6], MetaFIlter[7], BoingBoing[8], the National Post[9], the New York Daily News[10] and Democratic Underground.[11] The incident also became fodder for a segment on The Daily Show and an article on Cracked.[26]

Ford Avoids Questions

On May 17th, Mayor Ford was encountered by the press at least three times asking for a statement on the story. He called the allegations “ridiculous” and claimed that the Toronto Star was going after him in an official statement at city hall[4] (shown below). His brother, Toronto city councillor Doug Ford,[24] released a statement claiming the allegations were driven by “questionable reporting.”

Gawker's "Crackstarter"

Also on May 17th, Gawker launched an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign[19] intending to raise $200,000 USD to buy the Ford video. Within two days, they raised $63,500 towards their goal[20], breaking $145,000 by May 23rd. The same day, Gawker revealed[21] they had not been in contact with the owners of the video since May 19th, that no money would be taken from pledgers unless they reached the full $200,000 goal and that they would donate the full amount to a Canadian nonprofit working against substance abuse if they were unable to obtain the video.

Rob Ford Crackstarter READ THE UPDATE BELOW BEFORE CONTRIBUTING" Please help us raise enough money to purchase and publish a video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine. Video/Web - New York, New York, United States Campaign Home Updates /0 Comments/825 Funders/ 6875 $166,816 Raised of $200,000 Goal 0 days left ixed Funding campaign CONTRIBUTE NOW This campaign will only receive funds if at least $200,000 is raised by Mon 27 May 11:59PM PT

By early morning on May 27th, Gawker's Indiegogo campaign had surpassed its goal of $200,000 with more than 8,000 donor contributions. Despite reaching the goal, Gawker followed up with an update to the Indiegogo page stating that no further contact has been made with the people whom they believed to be in possession of Ford's crack smoking video.

Chief of Staff Fired

On May 23rd, 2013, Ford’s Chief of Staff, Mark Towhey, was escorted out of city hall, telling reporters “I am no longer the chief of staff. I did not resign.”[22] Though Towey claimed his departure was not related to the scandal, a source later told the CBC[23] that he was let go for organizing an impromptu intervention for Ford with his top advisors and telling the mayor to get help. Towey claimed the mayor laughed at thoughts of going to rehab. The day he was fired, Towhey gained more than 500 new followers on Twitter (shown below), but he has not addressed the matter there as of May 24th.

Ford's Press Conference

In the first few days following the scandal, Ford did not initially address whether or not the video was real. On May 24th, 2013, he held a press conference[17] where said he cannot comment on a video that he had “not seen or does not exist.”[18] He also reinforced that he does not use crack cocaine and is not addicted to it. He asserted that he had been judged by the media without any evidence. He also addressed the fact that he was let go as head coach of a Catholic high school’s football team, but a spokesperson for the Toronto Catholic District School Board claims this decision had nothing to do with the scandal.[25]

Police Recovery of Alleged Evidence

On October 31st, Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair announced that the department's forensics team has recovered a digital video clip containing the footage that is "consistent with what had been previously described in various media reports," confirming the existence of a video clip of Mayor Ford allegedly smoking from a crack cocaine pipe. The announcement came along with the release of a 500-page affidavit filed by the police for a search warrant in the case of Alexander Lisi, a friend of Mayor Ford and an alleged drug dealer, which includes pictures of Ford meeting with an alleged local drug dealer Alexander Lisi and details of 44 phone calls between the two in March 2013.

x0019 x0019 19

On November 3rd, Mayor Ford addressed the public about the scandal on his Sunday radio programme, during which he apologized for his drinking "mistakes" and vowed to curb his lifestyle choices, though he vehemently denied ever having smoked crack and called on the police chief to publicly release the video. The Toronto Police has yet to issue a search warrant or interview Mayor Ford in relation to the video.

Ford's Confession

On November 5th, Ford told reporters that he did smoke crack cocaine during an impromptu press conference at the Toronto city hall, adding that the incident occurred during a "drunken stupor" (shown below). Ford went on to acknowledge that he was curious to see the tape himself, that he was currently not using any illegal drugs and that he would not resign as mayor.

Hacking Allegations

Also on November 5th, Vice[31] reported that an anonymous source had informed them that he had been hired by Ford's communications director Amin Massoudi (shown below) to hack into the Bugs3 online directory and destroy a digital copy of the crack smoking footage. The anonymous hacker claims he was unable to delete the file from the directory but provided several alleged emails between himself and Massoudi. Massoudi did not respond to Vice's request for comment and subsequently deleted his Facebook[32] profile.

New Allegation of Crack Smoking

On April 30th, 2014, The Globe and Mail[33] published several still shots from a second video clip in which mayor Ford is allegedly seen smoking out of a metal pipe at a house with at least two of his associates. According to the article, the images were obtained from a self-professed drug dealer who claims that he supplied the drug that was smoked by Ford, along with his former driver Alessandro “Sandro” Lisi and his sister Kathy Ford, and he covertly recorded the event using his cellphone at around 1:15 p.m. on Saturday, April 26th. The article also revealed that the drug dealer who recorded the video is seeking to sell it for "at least six figures."

Later that same day, shortly after The Globe ran the article, Ford released a statement announcing a temporary leave from his re-election campaign and duties as mayor "to seek immediate help."

Exit from Mayoral Race

On September 12th, 2014, Rob Ford announced that he will not run in the upcoming mayoral election and his brother Doug Ford will run as the candidate in his place, though he will still run for a seat on the Toronto City Council in his Ward 2 district. The mysterious announcement came less than 48 hours after the embattled politician was admitted to Humber River Regional Hospital for severe abdominal pains.

“I could be facing a battle of my lifetime, and I want the people of Toronto to know that I intend to face this challenge head on, and win."

Diagnosis of Abdominal Cancer

On September 17th, 2014, Dr. Zane Cohen, a renowned colorectal surgeon in New York City, issued a statement revealing that the scandal-making mayor of Toronto has been diagnosed with pleomorphic liposarcoma, a rare type of cancerous tumors that can develop in connective soft issues around vital organs, during a press conference held at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, New York. According to Dr. Cohen, Ford’s tumor appears to have originated as far as two to three years before the discovery from the connective tissues in his abdominal area and it continues to spread to other parts of his body in an "aggressive form." While the surgeon refused to provide an assessment of the likelihood of a full recovery, he said he is "optimistic" about the three-day chemotherapy and other treatment options.


On March 22nd, 2016, Ford's family announced that the ex-major passed away at the age of 46, after a long fight with cancer. The announcement was consequently reported by several news sites.[34][35]

Search Interest

External References

[1] The Star – Rob Ford in 'crack cocaine' video scandal

[2] Gawker – For Sale: A Video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Smoking Crack Cocaine

[3] CBC News – Shooting victim Anthony Smith was a 'big part of the community'

[4] The Star – Rob Ford crack scandal: Toronto mayor refuses to discuss specifics of video

[5] Chicago Sun-Times – Reports: Video allegedly shows Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack (Updated)

[6] Huffington Post – Rob Ford On Video Smoking From Glass Pipe: Gawker, Toronto Star

[7] MetaFilter – For Sale: A Video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Smoking Crack Cocaine

[8] BoingBoing – Gawker reporter claims to have seen video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack

[9] National Post – From ‘high-end’ dealers to the Somali connection: A closer look at the alleged Rob Ford crack cocaine scandal

[10] NY Daily News – Toronto Mayor Rob Ford caught in crack smoking video scandal

[11] Democratic Underground – Toronto Mayor Rob Ford in crack cocaine video scandal

[12] Instagram – nottypix: Photo of front page story

[13] Twitter – Tweet results for #TOpoli

[14] Storify – Toronto Mayor Rob Ford in 'crack cocaine' video scandal. Twitter explodes.

[15] Topsy Analytics – Tweet Statistics for #TOpoli

[16] Topsy Analytics – Tweet Statistics for "Rob Ford"

[17] 680 News – RAW VIDEO: Mayor Rob Ford denies crack cocaine use

[18] Slate – With Fate of Video in Question, Toronto Mayor Denies Smoking Crack

[19] Indiegogo – Rob Ford Crackstarter

[20] Gawker – (Update) We Are Raising $200,000 to Buy and Publish the Rob Ford Crack Tape

[21] Gawker – Rob Ford Crackstarter Update

[22] The Globe and Mail – Mayor Rob Ford fires his chief of staff, Mark Towhey

[23] CBC – Rob Ford fired chief of staff for telling mayor to 'get help'

[24] Huffington Post – Doug Ford Defends Rob Ford Against Crack Allegations, Attacks Media

[25] Yahoo! News Canada – Rob Ford fired as Don Bosco Eagles football coach

[26] Cracked – How Toronto's Totally Deranged Mayor Stayed in Office

[27] Twitter – @thecanadacom's Correction

[28] The National Post – Rob Ford says he won’t resign after Toronto police say they found video

[29] BBC – Toronto Mayor Rob Ford apologises over drinking 'mistakes'

[30] The Daily Dot – How Toronto police nabbed the Rob Ford crack video


[32] Facebook – Amin Massoudi

[33] The Globe and Mail – Rob Ford takes leave as recent drug videos emerge

[34] BBC – Rob Ford, Toronto ex-mayor, dies aged 46 from cancer

[35] The Guardian – Rob Ford, former Toronto mayor, dies aged 46

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