Rob Ford jet-setted to Chicago on Thursday afternoon amid a new round of incriminating photos that show the infamous Toronto mayor smoking from what appears to be a crack pipe.
The Chicago Sun-Timesreports that Ford traveled here by private jet hours after announcing a leave of absence from office and his re-election campaign to seek treatment for substance abuse. It wasn't clear if he was checking into rehab in Chicago or another destination.
"I have a problem with alcohol, and the choices I have made while under the influence. I have struggled with this for some time," he said in a statement Wednesday. "I have tried to deal with these issues by myself over the past year. I know that I need professional help and I am now 100 percent committed to getting myself right. I love the people of Toronto, I love being your mayor and I hope you will continue to stand by me."
New images surfaced this week of Ford allegedly smoking crack cocaine in his sister Kathy's basement last weekend. On Wednesday, the Globe and Mail newspaper said it had viewed video footage of Ford taking a hit from a pipe that was secretly filmed by a so-called drug dealer on April 26. The paper purchased photo stills for $10,000.
The blustery, scandal-prone mayor became a global laughingstock last spring when the gossip site Gawker said it had seen a clip of Ford using crack. Ford denied the reports but admitted months later that he had, in fact, smoked the drug during "one of my drunken stupors."
Choosing not to resign from his mayoral duties, Ford vowed to avoid alcohol and drugs but apparently did not keep his promise: besides the latest crack revelation, he was caught on video earlier this year behaving sloppily and speaking in a Jamaican accent during a night of drinking at a restaurant. And on Wednesday, the Toronto Star reporting having audio evidence of Ford making icky remarks about a female political rival in a Toronto bar.