Gawker's bid to buy alleged Rob Ford crack video passes target; report ties video to police investigation

[ UPDATE: 4:45 p.m. ET: Gawker's campaign to raise $200,000 to buy an alleged video of Mayor Rob Ford smoking from a crack pipe has surpassed its target. Gawker said last week they have lost contact with those who have the video ]

When Toronto Mayor Rob Ford and his brother took to their radio program to discuss (or not discuss) the alleged video of the mayor smoking from a crack pipe, they compared the story to a Hollywood movie script.

Fantastic, bizarre and — in their words — unbelievable, the whole plot line does seem to be ripped from the pages of an over-the-top political thriller. Except for one thing: where is the murder?

Well here we are, weaving into the second week of the spectacular scandal and murder most foul has made its appearance.

The Globe and Mail reports that two sources confirmed a senior member of the mayor's office was interviewed by police about a tip connecting the alleged video with a recent homicide.

[ Related: Mayor Rob Ford called media "maggots" on his radio show ]

Cartoon by Gareth LindCartoon by Gareth LindAccording to the report, the source is said to know the address and unit number of the apartment where the video had been held. "They went on to say that the video originally belonged to an individual who may have been killed for its potentially valuable contents, according to a source," the Globe reports.

If you will recall, the Toronto Star and Gawker both reported viewing the video, which they say appeared to show the mayor smoking from a crack pipe, by men who offered to sell them the recording.

The Star said it did not pay for the video, while Gawker said the "six-figure price tag" was too high and launched a crowdsourced funding drive to collect enough to buy the video.

Gawker said last week that, while their campaign was nearing its target, the people who had the video appeared to have gone underground.

Both reports on the video were attached to a photo of Ford with two men, one of whom is believed to be 21-year-old Anthony Smith, killed in a drive-by shooting in March.

News about the video broke on May 16 and Ford avoided directly commenting on the allegations for over a week before finally declaring, "I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I an addict of crack cocaine."

His announcement came after the firing of chief of staff Mark Towhey, who reportedly urged the mayor to seek help, and the release of a letter from six members of his inner circle asking him to address the matter.

On his radio program on Sunday, Ford unequivocally declared that no such video existed and declined answering questions about the picture.

[ More Brew: Ethical questions about buying the alleged crack video ]

This new twist brings up several questions:

  • If no video exists, why would a senior Ford staffer purportedly claim to know where it was being held?
  • With how damaging, dangerous and intense this whole scandal has become, can anyone blame sources for requesting anonymity in media reports?
  • If a murder, presumably Smith's, has been connected to the video, is there any question why those who now possess the object would disappear amid international attention?
  • Finally, will those who supported the idea of paying to obtain the crack video change their tack now that it is reportedly tied to a murder investigation?

This latest revelation suggests, at the very least, there is no limit to how bizarre this Rob Ford crack video controversy can become. It really does have all the makings of a Hollywood movie and, boy, I hope there isn’t a sequel.

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