The news and gossip website Gawker, which organized a so-called "crackstarter" campaign to raise money to buy a purported video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack, has given up on its original mission.
Gawker will instead donate the funds to four local charities as part of its "Plan B," according to a post on Thursday by editor-in-chief John Cook.
"As you may recall, roughly six weeks ago we succeeded in raising $200,000 from readers in an effort to purchase and publish a video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine," Cook wrote. "I'm disappointed to announce definitively that the money won't be going to purchase and publish a video of Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine."
Cook conceded last month that the purported video "might be gone" and that his original contact "went silent" following intense global media interest and coverage of the story.
- Read the timeline of the Mayor Rob Ford controversy
- Police visited home linked to Rob Ford crack allegations
- Alleged Ford crack video seller not responding to calls
Donors gave $201,199 to Gawker through the online crowdfunding service Indiegogo. Cook as well as two journalists from the Toronto Star reported that they had viewed the footage and that a person in Etobicoke wishing to sell the video wanted a significant amount of money for a copy. Gawker said the price it was given was $200,000.
'We are pushing the Plan B we laid out'
The mayor has denied any such video exists and dismissed the reports as "ridiculous." A video has never been made public and CBC News has not viewed the video nor can it verify its authenticity.
In his update on Thursday, Cook wrote "we are pushing the Plan B we laid out," which was to donate the funds to Canadian charities if the video couldn't be bought.
After subtracting Indiegogo's service fees for hosting the campaign, the total haul amounts to $184,782.61.
The funds will be split four ways, with $46,195.65 going to these four organizations:
- The Somali Canadian Association of Etobicoke — A nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of Somali immigrants and refugees in the western part of Toronto called Etobicoke.
- The South Riverdale Community Health Centre — A community-based organization offering primary health care services to parts of the southeast Toronto community. Gawker says its funds are going towards drug programs.
- Unison Health and Community Services — A community-based nonprofit offering social and health services in the northwest part of Toronto.
- Ontario Regional Addictions Partnership Committee — A community-based nonprofit offering integrated social and health programs serving much of north Toronto. Gawker says it will be specifically funding drug programs.