Gawker hits fundraising goal to buy alleged Ford crack video

Gawker hits fundraising goal to buy alleged Ford crack video

A U.S. gossip website has raised the $200,000 in funds it was seeking to purchase a purported video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine.

Ten days ago, Gawker published a story on its website saying that someone in Toronto was trying to sell a video of Ford smoking crack cocaine.

Gawker said that one of its reporters had seen the video.

After the Gawker report surfaced, the Toronto Star published a report of its own saying that two its reporters had also seen the same video, which was being shopped around.

CBC News has not seen the video or been able to verify it.

Ford initially called the allegations surrounding the video "ridiculous," and at a hastily called press conference on Friday denied using crack cocaine and the video's existence.

"I do not use crack cocaine," Ford told the media, following mounting pressure from councillors to make a substantive statement on the allegations. "Nor am I an addict of crack cocaine."

But Gawker launched an online fundraising effort, in hopes of obtaining the $200,000 it said it needed to obtain the video. It reached its fundraising goal on Monday afternoon.

The problem for Gawker at this point is that the website has not been able to make contact with those who have the alleged video.

"We have had no further contact with the people we believe to have custody of this video since the last update," Gawker editor John Cook said Monday in an online posting.

Ford, who turns 44 on Tuesday, was elected as the mayor of Toronto in the fall of 2010. Throughout his term, he has struggled to unite council on key issues including transit and city spending.

The mayor has seen three key staff members leave his office in the past five days — his chief of staff and two press secretaries.

With files from The Canadian Press