Sign that your administration is in trouble: You have to hold a press conference just to assert that you've never smoked crack. That's exactly what Toronto Mayor Rob Ford — himself no stranger to controversy — had to do last week, amid an escalating scandal over his alleged on-camera use of the illegal drug.
And that's not even the whole story. A city hall revolt and murder are also now part of the imbroglio gripping Toronto's local government.
Here, a brief recap of what's happened (so far):
May 16: The Toronto Star and Gawker publish articles saying they'd both been offered a chance to buy a cellphone video of Ford smoking crack. According to the Star, the sellers are a group of Somali drug dealers. Their asking price: $200,000.
Both outlets say they watched the tape and concluded it was, in fact, Ford. Here's Gawker's John Cook describing the tape:
Rob Ford, the mayor of Toronto, is the only person visible in the frame. Prior to the trip, I spent a lot of time looking at photographs of Rob Ford. The man in the video is Rob Ford. It is well-lit, clear. Ford is seated, in a room in a house. In one hand is a a clear, glass pipe. The kind with a big globe and two glass cylinders sticking out of it. In the other hand is a lighter… He is red-faced and sweaty, heaving with each breath. Finally, he finds his moment and lights up. He inhales. [Gawker]
May 17: Gawker launches a Kickstarter campaign to purchase the tape. It's called "Rob Ford Crackstarter."
May 23: With the scandal heading into its second week, Ford fires his chief of staff, Mark Towhey. Ford's office gives no reason for the firing, though one city councilor says it was over a football dispute (Ford had just been fired as a volunteer high school football coach). Other reports claim Towhey got the boot for telling Ford to seek help.
May 24: Ford holds a press conference to address the accusations of drug use.
"I do not use crack-cocaine, nor am I an addict of crack-cocaine," he says. "As for a video, I cannot comment on a video that I have never seen, or does not exist."
May 25: A lengthy Globe and Mail investigative report claims Ford's brother and city councilor, Doug Ford, sold hashish in the 1980s. Doug Ford admits to smoking marijuana in his youth, but denies the accusations of drug dealing.
May 27: Press secretary George Christopoulos and deputy press secretary Isaac Ransom quit. Rob Ford calls the resignations "business as usual," but The Star suggests he was caught completely off guard by the news. "In full view of journalists Ford, trailed by a city hall security guard, paced around the mayor's suite looking into the emptied offices, appearing agitated," according to The Star.
Also on this day, the Globe and Mail reports that Toronto police interviewed a Ford staffer, asking for information about a possible link between the alleged video and a recent homicide. In Gawker's original story about the tape, Cook noted that his source provided a photo of Ford standing with an alleged drug dealer, Anthony Smith, who had been murdered in March.
Meanwhile, Gawker hits its fundraising total to purchase the alleged videotape. However, the site says it has lost contact with the people who purportedly possess the tape, adding that it will take some time to complete the "very delicate transaction" if it ever relocates the sellers.
May 30: Reports claim Ford told staff members one day after news of the videotape surfaced to not worry because he knew exactly where to find that tape. He then reportedly gave them a specific address.
On the same day, police announce they had arrested and charged 23-year-old Hanad Mohamed in connection with Smith's murder. Police had already charged Nisar Hashimi, also 23, in connection to the same shooting.
In addition, two more top staffers, policy adviser Brian Johnson and executive assistant Kia Netajian, resign.
Ford, meanwhile, holds a press conference to announce that "things are doing great, and we're doing fine." He refuses to discuss the alleged crack-smoking tape, and insists he will remain in office and run for re-election next year.
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