Toronto mayor loses two more top aides after crack scandal

Mon May 27, 2013 6:10pm EDT
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By Julie Gordon and Allison Martell

TORONTO (Reuters) - Two top aides quit Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's office on Monday as the embattled leader of Canada's biggest city faces lingering allegations he was caught smoking crack cocaine on video, accusations he has firmly denied.

The departures of the mayor's press secretary and deputy press secretary came just days after Ford fired his chief of staff. The mayor confirmed on Monday that both George Christopoulos and Isaac Ransom left of their own accord.

"I wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors and I want to thank them for working hard in this office," he told a crush of journalists outside his office. "That's it, it's business as usual."

Christopoulos and Ransom could not be reached for comment. But their departures renewed questions about whether the mayor would be able to weather his most serious controversy to date.

Ford has been under fire since reporters from the Toronto Star and Gawker Media said in separate reports on May 16 that they had seen a video that purports to show Ford smoking crack. The mayor directly denied the allegations on Friday, after initially dismissing the media stories as "ridiculous," without giving a full statement.

Reuters cannot confirm the existence of the video or its content.

The video, according to The Star and Gawker, was being shopped around by people involved in the drug trade. Both media outlets declined to pay the six-figure sum requested by the video's owners.

The controversy has made headlines across Canada and outside the country and drawn ridicule from late-night TV humorists Jimmy Kimmel, Jay Leno and Jon Stewart.   Continued...

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford makes a statement to the media at City Hall alongside his brother and city councillor Doug Ford, after his press secretary George Christopoulos and deputy press secretary Isaac Ransom resigned in Toronto, May 27, 2013. REUTERS/Mark Blinch