01/10/2012 04:43 pm ET Updated Jan 10, 2012

Former Mitt Romney Intern Took Credit For 2002 Gay Rights Flier

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- In an October 2007 article in a gay newspaper, a former volunteer for Mitt Romney's 2002 Massachusetts gubernatorial campaign claimed credit for writing a pro-gay rights flier that a top aide to the Republican candidate now asserts was never authorized.

Aaron Maloy, a former Cape Cod political activist and blogger, told Bay Windows that he put together the now-infamous pink leaflet that was distributed, ostensibly, by the Romney campaign during a 2002 gay pride event. The leaflet proclaimed that "all citizens deserve equal rights, regardless of their sexual preference," a statement of gay rights that has since proved difficult to explain for Romney and his aides.

After Sunday morning's Republican presidential debate, Romney's top spokesman, Eric Ferhnstrom, told The Huffington Post that he had no idea "where those pink fliers came from."

"I was the communications director on the 2002 campaign. I don't know who distributed them. ... I never saw them and I was the communications director," Ferhnstrom added.

Shortly thereafter, however, the Manhattan Institute's Josh Barro told BuzzFeed that he and a half-dozen fellow Romney gubernatorial campaign interns were told to go to a "post-parade festival on Boston Common" and hand out the fliers.

"The thing was organized by a full-time staffer," Barro added.

Maloy's role in the affair was not previously known until that October 2007 interview. An openly gay GOP operative (who happened to be against gay marriage), he told the newspaper that he was 19 at the time of the Pride Week event and an intern for the Romney campaign.

"He had a ton of gay people on his campaign in senior positions so I figured it would be an acceptable thing to do," said Maloy.

Neither Maloy nor Ferhnstrom returned a request for comment. While the nature of Maloy's 2007 remarks leaves open the possibility that he produced the fliers without the campaign's knowledge, the fact that both he and Barro have claimed involvement in their distribution does suggest this wasn't some rogue operation.