Anti-Clinton Ad Maker Lived With Obama Staffer

The press secretary for Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., recently lived with the creator of the scathingly satirical YouTube video ad that attacked Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., a revelation that seems to undermine the senator's claim that he and his campaign had only "very attenuated" ties with the ad's creator.

Ben LaBolt, the recently named press secretary of Obama's Senate office in Washington, D.C., roomed with Philip de Vellis, the creator of the "1984" ad, in Ohio last year while the two worked together on the successful Senate campaign of then Rep. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.

The relationship does not serve as evidence that anyone on the Obama campaign knew de Villis had made the ad. The Obama campaign and its employees have said they have no knowledge of and had nothing to do with the creation of the ad, and de Villis has written as much on a blog.

But it does seem to belie statements by Obama and the campaign that implied a much more distant relationship between Obama's campaign and de Villis.

Until the Huffington Post Web site uncovered that de Villis was the anonymous poster of the YouTube video, which portrays Clinton as a futuristic dictator, de Villis worked for Blue State Digital, which does Internet work for the Obama campaign's Web site. After de Villis admitted he had made the video, he and Blue State Digital parted ways.

Wednesday evening the Obama campaign issued a statement saying, "The Obama campaign and its employees had no knowledge and had nothing to do with the creation of the ad. We were notified this evening by a vendor of ours, Blue State Digital, that an employee of the company had been involved in the making of this ad. Blue State Digital has separated ties with this individual and we have been assured he did no work on our campaign's account."

Thursday, Obama said of de Vellis that his campaign had "no way of knowing who this person was."

"If I have a phone contract with Verizon and an employee of a phone company does something that you know … we're not responsible for that," Obama said.

And when asked by ABC News if he knew de Villis -- since they had both worked on the Brown for Senate campaign in 2006 -- LaBolt said, "I knew everyone who worked on the Brown campaign" but implied that he didn't know de Villis well at all.

But Friday afternoon the liberal blog RawStory.com posted a photograph showing LaBolt and de Vellis relaxing with a mutual friend in Ohio last year.

The Obama campaign told ABC news that the two had been roommates, seeming to suggest that de Vellis was not, as Obama said, the equivalent of a contract employee with Verizon.

Even after this connection between LaBolt and de Vellis was first reported, Obama told The Associated Press, "At no point … did we even know who [de Villis] was."

When asked to explain the apparent discrepancy, the Obama campaign refused to comment. It was unclear if Obama had not been informed that his press secretary and de Villis had not only worked together last year but lived together.

Clinton's Response

Clinton herself has not publicly expressed any outrage at the controversy, saying instead, "I was a little bit tickled that it took attention away from my singing on Youtube," referring to a video of her off-key rendition of the national anthem. "So for that it was something of a positive development."

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