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Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's staffer allegedly hired a hacker to delete crack-smoking video

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Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (West Annex News, Flickr)
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (West Annex News, Flickr)

In embarrassing news out of Canada today, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford admitted to smoking crack cocaine about a year ago, "probably in one of my drunken stupors," but vowed to remain in office. The confession — which came after months of dodged questions and denials by Ford, his staffers, and his brother — appeared to be the climax in long-simmering political scandal; a scandal ignited in May by the US news website Gawker, which first reported to have seen a recent video of Ford smoking crack cocaine. But another shoe may have just dropped on Ford: Vice is now claiming to have obtained proof that Ford's communications director sought the services of a hacker to try and delete the alleged crack-smoking video from a file hosting website.

Furthermore, according to Vice, the hacker was able to break into the site in question and download two large video files, the second of which some online are speculating could be a sex tape involving Ford. Vice reports that the hacker wasn't able to delete the files, however.

Do you know how to delete something from a website’s server?

The hacker, whose name and identity Vice is withholding, is said to have produced email transcripts of an ongoing conversation with Amin Massoudi, Ford's special assistant for communications and media relations. Unfortunately, the hacker didn't provide Vice with the long-form email headers needed to verify the messages. But if they are authentic, the email transcripts reveal that Massoudi offered up to $220,000 dollars to the hacker to delete a compromising video of the mayor off Bugs3, a free file hosting website. "Do you know how to delete something from a website’s server?" Massoudi reportedly wrote in one email to the hacker. "Or do you know someone who does? I can get you the site address to take a look if you think it’s possible, we’re just looking at options now." It's unclear how Massoudi would have obtained the web address in question, but the hacker appears to have agreed to the job.

Massoudi also appears to have joked with the hacker about buying hashish marijuana, "hash," and conveys that the "big guy" — presumably Ford — told them he was being blackmailed for smoking weed. The deal is said to have fallen apart after the hacker was unable to delete the videos from Bugs3. We've reached out to Ford's office for comment on Vice's story. At the very least, a fresh round of allegations of impropriety aren't likely to help Ford's chances for re-election, nor his already severely damaged reputation.