Tampa socialite Jill Kelley speaks on Petraeus scandal: Says emails to Gen. Allen and basic facts misreported by press
Tampa socialite Jill Kelley, whose request that an FBI agent friend look into anonymous threatening emails uncovered an affair which cost CIA director David Petraeus his job, has broken months of silence to tell her story.
In an interview with Howard Kurtz of Newsweek/Daily Beast, Kelley, 37, blamed the media for distorting or misreporting basic facts connected to the case, in which investigators discovered Petraeus biographer Paula Broadwell had sent the emails to Kelley and also maintained an affair with the then-CIA director through another email account.
She also claims Broadwell tried to blackmail her, though Kurtz did not see the actual emails and provides little detail on their content.
"“It was devastating,” Kelley said to Kurtz. “To have your privacy invaded is truly—there are no words to describe it. Instead of enjoying a family birthday party, I had paparazzi storming my front lawn, pushing down the door. There are no words to describe the panic and fear at that moment.”
The controversy landed Kelley in the crosshairs of media, which camped out in front of her home along Bayshore Boulevard during her daughter's seventh birthday party.
It was reported that Kelley had exchanged 30,000 emails, some flirtatious, with another official, Gen. John Allen; that she had tried to use her honorary status as a special consul to South Korea's foreign ministry to arrange and grab an $80 million commission on an energy deal; that the FBI agent who she originally asked to look into the emails sent her a shirtless photo of himself and was sidelined from the investigation; that the emails told her to stay away from Petraeus.
But Kelley said many of these details were misreported or overblown, insisting the 30,000 email figure was highly overstated, while noting she and her husband share an email account, making it tough to have an affair online. She also said the emails never told her to stay away from the then CIA director, resisting her characterization in some tabloid newspapers as "the other, other woman."
“As much as I appreciate that they want to be the first one to come out with a headline, regardless of whether they did any fact-checking, they have to consider the impact they have on our life and our children’s lives,” she said. “Just because it’s repeated doesn’t make it true. It was living a nightmare.”
Kurtz says authorities decided not to prosecute Broadwell after Kelley declined to press charges against her; she says in the interview she was concerned about the impact of a trial on her friends and family.
Kurtz also implies that her silence amid the flood of stories -- her sister, Natalie Khawam, held one press conference with celebrity lawyer Gloria Allred in which she refused to talk about the Petraeus case -- kept the flood of flawed information coming. Even her birthdate is wrong on her Wikipedia page, he says.
Read the story, which resulted from a two-hour interview with Kelley in Washington, by clicking here.