CINCINNATI -- ABC News says Philip de Vellis, the ex-Sherrod Brown campaign staffer who claims credit for making the "1984" YouTUBE ad that attacked Sen. Hillary Clinton, was closer to the Obama camp than first acknowledged. Ben LaBolt, Illinois Sen. Obama's press secretary, was de Vellis's roommate last year. They lived together while working for Democrat Brown in his successful campaign against Republican Mike DeWine, defeated after 12 years in the Senate.
[UPDATE: Raw Story has a picture of de Vellis and LaBolt, who is in a Cleveland Indians cap.]
[UPDATE: Prior to joining the Brown campaign, LaBolt was the the press secretary for Illinois Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat whose 9th District encompasses Chicago's North Side and several suburbs. One of those suburbs is Park Ridge, a community and name that LaBolt no doubt would have been familiar with. It also happens to be the community where Hillary Clinton grew up, and "ParkRidge47" was the e-mail handle of the person who posted the anti-Hillary ad on youTUBE.]
No surprise that more ties are emerging. Some in the Ohio 'sphere suspect de Vellis is not the lone ranger he's so far portrayed to be. For example, it's now known that the Hillary 1984 viral ad was a virtual carbon copy of an ad used against Sen. Joe Lieberman in Connecticut last July. And the company that says it fired de Vellis over the Hillary spot, Blue State Digital, worked for Lieberman's opponent, Ned Lamont. And there is this: ParkRidge47, the anonymous creator of the ad before de Vellis announced his authorship, claimed earlier this month to have gotten the idea for a viral campaign after someone said the Clintons were bullying donors for money.
The text of the e-mail exchange earlier this month with TechPresident's Micah L. Sifry follows:
"I emailed 'ParkRidge47' yesterday asking him or her for some background on how they made the video and why, and here's what s/he said:
"Thank you for your interest in the video. It has been amazing to watch it explode on the viral scene. At one point it was the #3 most watched video on YouTube and is at 108,000 views and growing.
"Considering Hillary Clinton's biggest video has only received 12,000 views on YouTube, I'd say the grassroots has won the first round.
"The idea was simple and so was the execution. Make a bold statement about the Democratic primary race by culture jacking a famous commercial and replacing as few images as possible. For some people it doesn't register, but for people familiar with the ad and the race it has obviously struck a chord.
A friend suggested the idea after reading a New York Times article about the Clinton's campaign bullying of donors and political operatives after the Geffen dustup.
"I don't want to say more than that. I'd prefer to let it speak for itself."
So far, the suggestor who read The New York Times has not publicly stepped forward. What if it is an old de Vellis roomie? Still, there are many loose ends. But inquiring minds are wondering: Was the shot at Hillary fired by a loose cannon, or was it a strike coordinated with Obama's team?