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Jill Kelley reappointed to museum board despite being not 'active or effective'

Published Nov. 16, 2012

TAMPA — Jill Kelley, the south Tampa socialite who touched off a scandal that took down CIA director David Petraeus, didn't exactly impress the leader of the Henry B. Plant Museum Board in the three years after then-Mayor Pam Iorio appointed her.

"She was a wild-card appointment from the mayor and has not been active or effective," Executive Director Cynthia Gandee e-mailed city officials in April. "However, we felt we should talk with her."

Despite the weak endorsement — and the fact that she showed up at only seven out of 24 meetings her first term — Mayor Bob Buckhorn reappointed her in May to another three years on the board:

"Your hard work, together with that of the other members, will be of great benefit to the Museum and all of Tampa's citizens," Buckhorn wrote in a letter to Kelley.

She has attended two out of three meetings so far this term, according to board records.

The museum board was established to assist and advise on the restoration and preservation of the Plant Museum, a national historic landmark at the University of Tampa.

Emails from Kelly to the mayor's office show she frequently invited Buckhorn to parties, including a 15-course Lebanese meal prepared for VIPs from the Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nepal, a yacht club stone crab night and a birthday bash for her 7-year-old daughter on the front lawn of her Bayshore Boulevard home, complete with a DJ and an open bar — for the "Big Kids! Lol! :-)."

The emails show Buckhorn declined most of the invitations.