Embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford denied smoking crack cocaine in a brief statement on Friday, one day after allegedly sacking his chief of staff for advising him to seek help, CBC-TV reported.
“I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I an addict of crack cocaine.” Ford said at a press conference, reading from a prepared statement. He did not mention whether he had ever partaken of the drug.
The furor surrounding Ford began after both Gawker and the Toronto Star reported on May 16 that they had seen a video of Ford smoking crack cocaine and declarimg himself, “Fucking right-wing,” while using homophobic and racist language. Gawker subsequently began raising funds online with which to buy the video. The campaign has amassed more than $165,000 as of Friday afternoon.
“As for a video, I cannot comment on a video that I have never seen or does not exist,” Ford said. “It is most unfortunate, very unfortunate, that my colleagues and the great people of this city have been exposed to the fact that I have been judged by the media without any evidence.”
Ford’s statement came a day after firing chief of staff Mark Towhey. CBC reported on Friday that Towhey was let go after telling Ford, “You have a problem. Go away and fix it” during a meeting between the mayor and his advisors, as pressure mounted on Ford to publicly address the allegations.
However, Ford said during his statement on Friday, he had been advised by his solicitor “not to say a word.”
Watch Ford’s short statement, posted online Friday by the CBC news show The National, below.