Rob Ford to ‘take a leave’ after another alleged crack-smoking video emerges

 

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, the Chris Farley look-alike who admitted last year to smoking crack cocaine during a “drunken stupor,” is in trouble again.

On Wednesday night, a video that appears to show Ford smoking something out of a metal pipe emerged, allegedly shot by a self-professed drug dealer who says it was crack cocaine. Shortly after reporters from the Globe and Mail confronted Ford, who’s currently running for reelection, he said he was going to take a break from campaigning.

“I have a problem with alcohol, and the choices I have made while under the influence,” he said in a midnight statement on Facebook, adding that he’ll “take a leave” from his mayoral responsibilities and the campaign. “I have struggled with this for some time.”

So ends another odd episode in the Rob Ford saga, which began in 2010 when he won Toronto’s mayoral election by vowing to eliminate the “gravy train” of government expenses and then rollicked through controversy after controversy before finally arriving at his sister’s house on Saturday morning. There, the mayor reportedly smoked out of a “long” metal pipe and was allegedly in the company of a self-described crack dealer.

According to the Globe and Mail, the video shows “Ford taking a drag from a long copper-colored pipe, exhaling a cloud of smoke and then frantically shaking his right hand.” As of Thursday morning, no media outlet had independently confirmed the contents of Ford’s copper pipe, but Ford’s criminal attorney said it may have been marijuana.

A person describing himself as a drug dealer who sent e-mails to media outlets from an account named “Jermaine” claims to have shot the video. He’s looking to score “six figures” for the video. So far, no outlets have bitten, though it’s not for a lack of effort. The man, the second drug dealer in the last year to have tried to sell footage of Ford smoking crack, approached Gawker on Monday.

“Is your organization still interested in Rob Ford?” he asked. “I have a video of the mayor smoking crack taken very recently.”

The dealer was working the Globe and Mail at the same time. The newspaper reports he wanted “at least six figures.” The Globe and Mail did not purchase the video, but watched it and bought several still frames for $10,000. The video depicted Ford “smoking what looks like crack cocaine,” reporter Robyn Doolittle tweeted late Wednesday.

But it also showed much more. It showed him “rapidly shift[ing] his weight back and forth on the spot, talking into his cellphone and his right arm swinging at his side.” It showed a man in attendance who looked like Alessandro Lisi, who once drove the mayor around and has been charged with drug dealing and extortion. It showed Ford’s sister, Kathy, who has said she has battled drug problems. And it showed Ford, who wore the same outfit he was seen wearing last Friday, talking. And talking some more.

Ford has always been a big talker. Born in Toronto in 1969, Ford’s first big break in politics arrived in 2000 when he won a seat on the Toronto City Council. He got into drama immediately, questioning spending city money on a video highlighting gay life in Toronto’s South Asian community. “I have no problem giving money out to physically or mentally handicapped children or seniors,” he said. “But spending $5,000 on this video is disgusting, it is absolutely disgusting to spend this amount of money on this, whatever it was called, video.”

He later referred to another councilor as a “gino-boy,” and another councilor as a “waste of time,” a “waste of skin.” In 2005, he expressed bafflement at transgender issues. “Number one, I don’t understand a transgender. I don’t understand, is it a guy dressed up like a girl or a girl dressed up like a guy?”

The next year, an intoxicated Ford was removed from a Maple Leafs game after confronting a couple, asking, “Do you want your little wife to go over to Iran and get raped and shot?” (Ford later said he had been drinking and felt “embarrassed and humiliated.”)

Ford’s pugnacity and raucousness apparently resonated with some Toronto voters, because he was elected mayor in 2010 with 47 percent of the vote, highlighting his undeniable knack for political survival.

He even kept upright after reportedly throwing a wild St. Patrick’s Day party at the mayor’s office. The Toronto Sun said it included a “very intoxicated” mayor “knocking a junior staffer off his feet, jumping on his giant Cut the Waist challenge scale, smashing his cellphone on the wall, crying, and even throwing racial slurs and his business cards at a cab driver.” The Fordian antics hit an apex the following year with this memorable quote: “Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine but … am I an addict? No. Have I tried it? Um, probably in one of my drunken stupors.”

One of those stupors reportedly happened Monday night, two days after Ford was recorded smoking what a drug dealer claims was crack cocaine. He arrived at a Toronto bar, the Sun reports, and “was seen buying shooters and tequila and trying to fight with patrons.”

Then, according to additional video that was also surreptitiously captured, he disparaged one of his mayoral campaign opponents, Karen Stintz.

“I’d like to f—–g jam her, but she doesn’t want…. I can’t talk like this…. I’m so sorry.”

Ford has plans to return from his break from politics. “With the support of my family, friends, professionals and the people of Toronto,” he said, “I will conquer this.”

Terrence McCoy is a foreign affairs writer at the Washington Post. He served in the U.S. Peace Corps in Cambodia and studied international politics at Columbia University. Follow him on Twitter here.
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