TAMPA — In March, Jill Kelley said U.S. Gen. John Allen needed her help.
In emails obtained by the Tampa Bay Times, she claimed Allen, commander of the U.S. war effort in Afghanistan, called and emailed her seeking assistance in tamping down a threat by disc jockey Bubba the Love Sponge Clem to "deep fat fry" a Koran.
The Department of Defense is now investigating the exchange of tens of thousands of emails between Kelley, a south Tampa socialite, and the four-star general. Defense officials said Friday morning they couldn't verify Kelley's account.
In emails to Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Kelley said Allen was worried the radio stunt could put troops in harm's way. She said then-CIA director David Petraeus and Vice Admiral Robert S. Harward also contacted her about lending a hand.
"I have Petraeus & Allen both emailing me to get this dealt with," she wrote Buckhorn March 7.
She follows up with another:
"Gen. Allen will be calling me from Afghanistan at 1pm on this- and our next step."
The Mayor replies: "If it involves the radio station, we are working on it."
She asks him if she should get a lawyer involved:
"I'm considering having my 1st Amendment filing suit against Bubba and the Producers," she wrote.
Kelley's name dropping continues through many of the emails she sent to Buckhorn. She mentions Gen. James Mattis, the King of Jordan and a group of international "VIPs."
She talks about dinners at their homes and jet-setting to Washington, D.C. to be with Petraeus, adding:
"Let's set up a double date when I return!"
Clem did not follow through on his prank, he said, after interventions from Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee and Col. Jim Previtera, Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor and attorney Stephen Diaco.
Retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, who served as chief of U.S. Central Command from 1997 to 2000, said in an interview that he would not have sought an intermediary to deal with someone like Bubba.
"I don't want to give the impression that I am trying to put pressure on someone in a roundabout way," Zinni said. "I would contact him directly."
Times staff writer William R. Levesque contributed to this report.