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Gawker meets $200,000 goal to buy alleged video of mayor smoking crack

Prince Charles sits with his wife Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (L) as they watch Victoria Day fireworks at Ashbridges Bay in Toronto, Ontario on May 21, 2012 after meeting members of the Ontario emergency services and their families during the second leg of their 2012 Royal Tour to Canada part of Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee celebrations. UPI Photo /Heinz Ruckemann
Prince Charles sits with his wife Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (L) as they watch Victoria Day fireworks at Ashbridges Bay in Toronto, Ontario on May 21, 2012 after meeting members of the Ontario emergency services and their families during the second leg of their 2012 Royal Tour to Canada part of Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee celebrations. UPI Photo /Heinz Ruckemann | License Photo

TORONTO, May 28 (UPI) -- U.S. website Gawker.com said it raised $200,000 to buy a video allegedly showing Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack, but lost contact with its brokers.

The gossip website said it hasn't been able to contact those who say they have the alleged video since May 19, and told donors Monday its confidence it can finish the deal "has diminished," The (Toronto) Globe and Mail reported.

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Gawker posted an update Monday that said, "We have had no further contact with the people we believe to have custody of this video since the last update," the Toronto Star reported.

Ford has denied using crack and said Sunday "there's no video."

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When it started the "Crackstarter" campaign, Gawker said it would donate funds raised to a Canadian substance abuse non-profit if the deal fell through.

However, organizations said they aren't enthusiastic about the possible donation.

"We appreciate donations, but it has to come from a good source, not something like this," said Shirley Carmody, executive director of the Oasis Addiction Recovery Society, based in Toronto. "I feel that we really don't want any part of it."

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Gawker editor John Cook and two Toronto Star reporters said they have seen a video that apparently shows Ford smoking from a crack pipe. The Globe and Mail said it has not been able to verify the existence of the video.

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The Star said police with Ford's former chief of staff due to concerns a member of Ford's staff was trying to get the purported video.

Sources told the Star that soon after news about the video's existence broke May 16, aides including Ford's logistics chief David Price, then-chief of staff Mark Towhey and two other senior officials discussed the situation.

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Towhey told Price he would advise contacting police, the Star said. Price said the video may have been why Anthony Smith, a person seen in a photo with Ford, was killed soon after the news of the video surfaced, sources told the Star.

The Star said it hasn't been able to contact Price and Towhey has refused to comment.

Toronto police have told the Star the investigation wasn't a homicide probe, but that they used homicide detectives because of their interviewing expertise.

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