Florida socialite in Petraeus scandal feels 'scared,' betrayed

Sat Nov 17, 2012 10:37am IST

Jill Kelley, a friend of the Petraeus family, walks out of her home toward her car on Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa, Florida November 12, 2012. REUTERS/Brian Blanco

Jill Kelley, a friend of the Petraeus family, walks out of her home toward her car on Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa, Florida November 12, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Brian Blanco

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REUTERS - Days after an extramarital affair forced CIA Director David Petraeus to resign, the Florida socialite who triggered the inquiry that took down Petraeus complained about "paparazzi" in front of her mansion and "people calling me with threats."

Jill Kelley, whose tip about harassing emails from the retired four-star general's mistress Paula Broadwell sparked the FBI probe that revealed the affair, complained to Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn in emails this week that she and her family were frightened by the worldwide attention they were receiving.

"I'm not sending my daughters to school today, and my husband slept at the hospital, because its just gotten too difficult to even pull out of our own driveway. And now, I have to deal with people calling me with threats," Kelley wrote in one of several emails the mayor released on Friday.

"I'm scared and cannot believe what my city - in which I have contributed so much of my love, time, money and leadership - has now done to me and my innocent family," she said.

Besides the affair, investigators uncovered a series of explicit emails between Kelley and another high-ranking military man she had met in her work as a volunteer social liaison at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa: General John Allen, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

The emails released by Buckhorn, which represent his communications with Kelley since he took office in April 2011, show Kelley as a cheerful, name-dropping party host and volunteer. Along with her cancer surgeon husband, she became cozy with Petraeus, Allen and several other military leaders who served at MacDill.

The emails also show that right up to the day before the sex scandal became public on November 9, Kelley was using her connections to military leaders to cast herself as an influential community leader.

In a series of emails with Buckhorn in March, for example, Kelley told the mayor that Petraeus, Allen and Vice Admiral Robert Harward had sought her help in preventing a local disc jockey known as Bubba the Love Sponge from deep-frying a Koran.

The stunt - which never took place - was scheduled for roughly a year after a Florida pastor's burning of a Koran led to protests and several deaths around the world.

Before the stunt this year was called off, Kelley told Buckhorn that her military friends had asked her to get involved to try to stop it.

"I have Petraeus & Allen both emailing me about getting this dealt with," Kelley told Buckhorn in an email on March 7.

In a brief reply, Buckhorn said Tampa's police chief was planning to talk to the radio station manager about the issue.

"Ok. Can you keep me in the loop?" Kelley wrote back. "Gen Allen will be calling me from Afghanistan at 1 p.m. on this - and our next step."

Whether Petraeus, Allen and other military leaders actually called on Kelley in such matters could not be verified on Friday.

Buckhorn did not respond to a request for comment on Friday. Attempts to reach Kelley for comment have been unsuccessful.

A CHANGE IN TONE

In emails to Buckhorn, Kelley referred to herself as "Ambassador to U.S. Central Command's Coalition," a position she told Buckhorn included hosting various distinguished visitors who traveled to Tampa.

The MacDill base is home to the U.S. Central Command, which runs military operations in the Middle East and South Asia.

Military sources said Kelley and five other Tampa-area residents were given the titles of honorary ambassador. The designation did not come with any special privileges, although until this week Kelley did have a pass that allowed her onto the base.

The curt tone of Kelley's emails to Buckhorn this week was a departure from her previous dispatches to the mayor, whom she and her husband, Scott Kelley, had hosted at a reception at their waterfront home in April 2011, after Buckhorn was elected mayor.

Jill Kelley followed up with frequent invitations to Buckhorn and his wife for social events - most of which the mayor declined.

Her emails to Buckhorn are filled with the names of military officers and references to trips to Washington, including several visits she said she had made to see friends who work in the White House.

In one of the most recent emails, Kelley reflects on a visit to Washington to see friends in the White House just before the November 6 election.

She also laments that Buckhorn and his wife had been unable to join Kelley, her husband and Vice Admiral Harward for a crab dinner at a local yacht club.

"I'll give you another chance! LoL! :-)" Kelley wrote to the mayor on November 7.

In a couple of emails to Buckhorn, Kelley referred to visits with the Petraeus family during trips to Washington.

"We just got back from spending the weekend with the (Petraeuses) <it was Dave's 59th birthday> and he said to send you his best!" Kelley wrote to Buckhorn in November 2011.

A friend of David Petraeus reiterated on Friday that the relationship between Petraeus and Kelley was purely friendship, and that "there was no romantic involvement whatsoever."

The friend, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that Petraeus and his wife, Holly, would see the Kelleys when the Tampa couple came up to Washington to visit Kelley's sister and her sister's son. The Petraeuses and Kelleys sometimes would go out to dinner together, he said.

Friends of Allen also have said that he was not romantically involved with Kelley.

In the last communications from Kelley to Buckhorn, Kelley asked Buckhorn for help and then criticized him for allowing the city government to release information about her that included her home address and cellphone number.

"Can you help out with the obstruction by the paparazzi, since they're blocking our alley, our driveway, and continue to trespass on my property," Kelley wrote on Tuesday.

The next day, Kelley said the release of personal details had put "me and my daughters in harms way."

She added that having her name in the media would not bother her "if they got the facts right. ... The truth will one day prevail."

(Additional reporting by Warren Strobel and David Adams; Editing by David Lindsey and Mohammad Zargham)

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