Would Bitcoin Have Helped or Hurt Rob Ford?

It was St. Patrick’s Day in March 2012 and Toronto mayor Rob Ford was “very intoxicated.” At a “wild party”

It was St. Patrick’s Day in March 2012 and Toronto mayor Rob Ford was “very intoxicated.” At a “wild party” in his office, he knocked down a staffer and insulted others present. He then proceeded to a downtown restaurant, “flailed around” on the dance floor, and returned to city hall making racial slurs to the driver along the way. He wandered around city hall until after 2 AM with a bottle of brandy, swearing at another staffer, before security arranged for him to be taken home.

As a city councillor in 2006, Ford was in attendance at a Toronto Maple Leafs game at the Air Canada Centre. “Visibly intoxicated and belligerent”, he began to insult a couple seated behind him. He was escorted out of the building by security. When confronted about the incident by media, he denied it entirely, saying, “This is unbelievable, I wasn’t even at the game, so someone’s trying to do a real hatchet job on me, let me tell you.” He later admitted to the incident after consulting with family.

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Such has been the pattern in Rob Ford’s turbulent career. Dozens of other incidents like these have made headlines over the years, resulting in City Council stripping him of most of his powers in late 2013. Two weeks ago, he finally agreed to take leave of absence from his remaining duties as mayor and from his October re-election campaign.

Things took a turn for the worse one year ago upon revelations of a possible drug addiction. In one of the highest profile developments, gossip website Gawker said it was offered a video of Ford smoking crack-cocaine. Several others claimed to have viewed the video as well, including police Chief Bill Blair. Ford initially denied the existence of such a video or a drug addiction, but later relented. Other corroborating images and videos have since surfaced.

The gangs servicing Rob Ford’s drug needs have sought to capitalize upon their in-person get-togethers, requesting exorbitant sums among other demands in exchange for incriminating articles of interest, such as the original video.

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The question arises: could Bitcoin have saved Rob Ford? Conducting his activities “anonymously” over the internet, such as through a Silk Road or some equivalent, would theoretically obviated much of the baggage trail left behind. Far fewer people would have been involved.

The short answer is no.

Anonymity is not one of the mayor’s strengths. Even if transacted over the web, there’s no shortage of stumbling blocks along the way. The scandal-hungry media and the transparency of the blockchain are adequate ingredients to get the most savvy into piecing the puzzle together. If he was involved with Bitcoin (see a fun example here), it is not impossible that the mayor would have had some choice words on it during one his drunken stupors.

In addition, we don’t know if Ford’s social drug taking was done out of necessity to satisfy his suppliers, or was indeed part and parcel with the whole experience. It is entirely possible that in-person gatherings would have taken place either way.

Finally, the most likely outcome of a Rob Ford drug binge incognito would have been a far more precipitous impairment in his ability to function. In all probability, there would be less impetus to pursue help, as there was in the midst of the fiasco during the past year. The likelihood of some mega-incident that would permanently oust him from office thus rises over time.

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