November 14, 2012

Fla. socialite at center of general's sex scandal

The Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. — A Florida socialite linked to the sex scandal that brought down CIA Director David Petraeus called police for what she termed diplomatic protection after the news media gathered outside her home.

click image to enlarge

Jill Kelley leaves her home Tuesday, Nov 13, 2012 in Tampa, Fla. Kelley is identified as the woman who allegedly received harassing emails from Gen. David Petraeus' paramour, Paula Broadwell. She serves as an unpaid social liaison to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, where the military's Central Command and Special Operations Command are located. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

click image to enlarge

FILE POOL - In this July 9, 2011 file photo, USMC Gen. John Allen, left, and Army Gen. David Petraeus, top U.S. commander in Afghanistan and incoming CIA Director, greet former CIA Director and new U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, right, as he lands in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, July 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Paul J. Richards, Pool)

AP

Related headlines

In the phone call to authorities, Jill Kelley, the unofficial social ambassador for some of the military's top brass, cited her status as an honorary consul general while complaining about news vans that had descended on her stately two-story brick home overlooking Tampa Bay.

"You know, I don't know if by any chance, because I'm an honorary consul general, so I have inviolability, so they should not be able to cross my property. I don't know if you want to get diplomatic protection involved as well," she told the 911 dispatcher Monday.

Nearly all lines in the increasingly tangled sex scandal involving Petraeus lead back to Kelley, whose complaint about anonymous, threatening emails triggered the FBI investigation that led to the general's downfall. And now Kelley is in the middle of an investigation of the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan over alleged "inappropriate communications" between the two.

Kelley's friendship with Petraeus and his wife began when the general arrived in Tampa about 2008. Kelley and her husband, Scott, a cancer surgeon, had moved to the area a few years earlier and threw a welcome party at their home, a short distance from Central Command headquarters, introducing the new Central Command chief and his wife Holly to Tampa's elite, according to staffers who served with Petraeus.

Such friendships among senior military commanders and prominent local community leaders are common at any base, a symbiotic relationship where the officers invite top locals to exclusive military events and functions, and the invitees respond by providing private funding to support troops with everything from morale-boosting "Welcome Home" parades to assistance for injured troops.

She also met Gen. John Allen while he was at Central Command, and now investigators are looking at 20,000-plus pages of documents and emails between Kelley and Allen, some of which have been described as "flirtatious." The general has denied any wrongdoing.

For her part, Kelley has taken a low profile since Petraeus' affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, became public. The Kelleys have retained high-powered Washington lawyer Abbe Lowell, who did not immediately return a call.

On Tuesday, Kelley could be seen through the large windows of her South Tampa home. In the driveway was a silver Mercedes with a license plate marked "Honorary Counsel." Kelley's identical twin sister, Natalie Khawam, also lives there.

South Tampa is a conservative Southern community of big houses, big bank accounts, garden clubs and wives who pride themselves on volunteer work. A lot of the brass from MacDill Air Force Base, where Central Command is headquartered, lives or socializes in South Tampa, and helping members of the military is a major volunteer activity.

Former Mayor Pam Iorio said she went to several parties to benefit the military at the Kelleys' home, and they drew MacDill's top brass, including Petraeus. But they were by far not the only parties held around the city for MacDill's officers.

"Our community's relationship with MacDill is just multi-faceted," said Iorio, who later invited the Petraeuses over to her own home for dinner. "It's something that is generational. People sincerely care about the military."

Petraeus aides said Kelley took it to another level, winning the title of "honorary ambassador" for her extensive entertaining. Petraeus even honored Kelley and her husband with an award in a special ceremony at the Pentagon.

(Continued on page 2)

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)