Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said Thursday it's an "outright lie" that he tried to buy the video that sparked a crack-smoking scandal that has turned him into a political figurehead and a punchline.
Ford was asked about the allegations — stemming from court documents that detail wiretaps of gang members — during a call to a U.S. sports radio show that has recruited him to give football picks every week.
One suspect was heard in April saying that Ford offered $5,000 and a car in exchange for the video, which appears to show him smoking a crack pipe. The gang member said he planned to ask for $150,000.
"Number one, that's an outright lie, and number two, you can talk to my lawyers about it," Ford told the "Sports Junkies" show on Washington, D.C., station WJFK.
"I'm here to talk about football, guys."
The video in question came to light weeks later when it was shopped to media outlets, and Ford finally admitted last month that he has smoked crack in a drunken stupor — and also copped to driving drunk and buying drugs.
After he ignored demands that he resign, Ford was stripped of most of his powers by disgusted and alarmed Toronto City Council members. The conservative Canadian insists he will run again and win next fall.
"The future is that I will be re-elected on Oct. 27 and serve four more years," he said Thursday when asked what the future held for him.
Ford has not been charged with a crime, but his sometime driver, Alexander Lisi, is charged with extortion for what police described as his "efforts to retrieve a recording."
Lisi is also charged with drug dealing and the wiretaps that mention the mayor were released as part of that investigation.
They detail an allegation that Ford had his phone swiped at a crack house, and Lisi threatened the gang to get it back — only to be told the men had a picture of the mayor "on the pipe." Lisi allegedly traded marijuana to get the phone back.
Even though Ford has already admitted to smoking crack at least once, the court documents are startling in the gang members' apparent familiarity with the top elected official in Canada's biggest city and his recklessness.
In one wiretap, a man comments that "Rob Ford was smoking his rocks today" and discusses a photograph of him. Another person said he had pictures of Ford "doing the hezza" — slang for heroin, according to police.
During his radio show appearance, Ford repeatedly tried to direct the conversation away from his outrageous behavior and back to sports — he picked the New York Jets, Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills among his selections for this weekend's games — but still weighed in on a number of hot button topics.
He doesn't think the Washington Redskins should change their name out of sensitivity for Native Americans and he is not a fan of Obamacare.
Asked how he feels when a woman wins his weekly football pool, Ford said, "A lot of women up here, they win all the time. They just choose the cutest guy."
First published December 5 2013, 11:58 AM