Charles E. Phillips, a member of President Barack Obama's Economic
Recovery Advisory Board and a powerful figure in the technology
industry, is involved in a bizarre series of billboards on display
around New York City this week, reportedly orchestrated by an angry
The billboards feature photos of Phillips, co-president of software giant Oracle Corporation, with a woman named YaVaughnie Wilkins.
At first glance, they look like romantic gestures writ large, with photos of the couple and affectionate phrases from Phillips to Wilkins in quotes. At the bottom of the billboards there's a website address; the site is a collage of romantic photos and correspondence between the pair.
Phillips admitted on Thursday to an NBC affiliate that the couple were involved in a "serious relationship" for more than eight years, but he said they had recently broken up, and both "wish each other well."
But court records obtained by Gawker.com show that Charles E. Phillips was legally married to Karen Phillips during the entire length of his relationship with Wilkins.
Charles and Karen Phillips began divorce proceedings in 2008, but they are not finalized, and in December of 2009, Charles was photographed at an awards ceremony with Karen, whom he thanked in an acceptance speech, saying he owes "everything in my life to my wife, Karen."
The billboards could embarrass Phillips, one of the most visible faces of Oracle, at a pivotal time: The company's plans to acquire Sun Microsystems are nearly finalized, and any negative publicity could adversely affect the merger.