Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has been having a lousy week, and it may have gotten much worse.
Gawker's "Crackstarter" campaign on Indiegogo has reached its goal of raising $200,000 to buy a drug dealer's video allegedly showing Ford smoking crack cocaine and post it online.
The gossip Web site's John Cook and journalists from The Toronto Star say they have seen footage in which Ford is smoking crack with drug dealers.
Cook, who has described how he met the drug dealers in Toronto and viewed the smartphone video, clearly thinks it's in the public interest -- and Gawker's -- to pay the crack users.
Ford has repeatedly denied the allegation, saying, "I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I an addict of crack cocaine. As for a video, I cannot comment on a video that I have never seen or does not exist."
More than 8,300 donors raised more than $200,600 to fund the purchase of the video. Meeting the goal on Monday sparked a storm of joyous comments on the campaign page.
But the video may not surface anytime soon. Cook has warned that since May 19 his source has not been able to reach the person who showed him the footage, and that he was less confident of being able to procure it.
"Folks who are involved in the crack trade tend not to be the most reliable people in the world," Cook wrote in an update. "At this point, we have no idea why he is out of touch, or if he even knows about the Crackstarter campaign."
"After the story broke, I told the tipster I was trying this Crackstarter route and asked him what the price was, and was told $200,000," Cook told CNET News last week. "I impressed upon him that it was unlikely we could come up with that, but he held firm."
While the dealer may be in hiding, or waiting for the campaign goal to be met, The Globe and Mail newspaper reports that police have interviewed a senior member of Ford's office in connection with a homicide allegedly linked to the video.
The owner of the video "may have been killed for its potentially valuable contents," it added, quoting an anonymous source.
Cook has said that if the campaign is successful but the video cannot be purchased, the money will go "to a Canadian nonprofit that addresses substance abuse issues." Some donors have urged him to wait 30 days before going that route.
After two senior members of his press staff resigned on Monday, Ford told reporters outside his office, "Everything is fine. I have no idea what the police are investigating. It's better that you talk to the police."
Ford also apologized to reporters for comments he made on a weekend radio show, in which he called journalists a "bunch of maggots."