Here’s What We Know About Jill Kelley, The Florida Woman Whose Inbox May Take Down Two Four-Star Generals

Jill Kelley

The soap opera sex scandal engulfing disgraced former CIA director David Petraeus took several turns for the weird over night, with the news that the FBI is investigating another four-star general over his relationship with Jill Kelley, the Tampa woman who originally triggered the investigation into Petraeus’s affair. 

To get you up to speed, Petraeus resigned Friday over his extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, which was uncovered after a second woman, Tampa socialite Jill Kelley, told a friend at the FBI that she had received threatening anonymous e-mails about her own (reportedly platonic) relationship with Petraeus. A subsequent FBI investigation revealed that the emails had come from Broadwell and that Broadwell was having an affair with Petraeus. 

Last night, news broke that the FBI also uncovered “between 20,000 and 30,000 pages of potentially inappropriate emails” between Kelley and General John R. Allen, the top commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan. 

So who is Kelley and how did she come to be at the centre of the biggest Washington sex scandal of the decade? 

Here’s what we know: 

  • Born Jill Khawam, Kelley is 37-years old and grew up in Philadelphia, where her parents settled after emigrating from Lebanon in the mid-1970s, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. 
  • She now lives in Tampa, Fla., where she is an “unpaid social liaison” to MacDill Air Force Base, home to the U.S. Central Command. From what we can tell, the role is basically a fancy term for socialite, and entails organising, hosting, and attending social events for high-ranking military officials. 
  • She and her husband Scott, a respected cancer specialist, live in a $1.3 million colonial mansion in Tampa’s upscale Bayshore Boulevard neighbourhood with their three young daughters. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Jill Kelley has “established a name for herself as an extravagant hostess with a military guest list” and the Kelley mansion is “the place to be seen for coalition officers.” 
  • Although she is not a government employee, Kelley was reportedly named an honorary consulate general to South Korea in September, and in a photo taken by the Daily Mail, she is pictured with a Mercedes with a licence plate that reads “Honorary Counsel.” The AP reports that she was also presented with a certificate awarding her as an “honorary ambassador for allied nations,” and uses the title, but drops the “honorary.” 
  • According to reports, the Kelleys became friendly with David Petraeus and his wife when Petraeus was head of CENTCOM, from 2008 to 2010. The AP reports that Jill Kelley and Petraeus kept in touch after he left CENTCOM to take over command of the war in Afghanistan, and exchanged near-daily emails and instant messages. Acquaintances of both families have told reporters that the relationship between General Petraeus and Jill Kelley was platonic. 
  • In the 10 years that Jill and Scott Kelley have lived in Tampa, one or both have been the subject of at least nine lawsuits “seeking payment of real estate and credit card debts,” according to the Tampa Bay Times. 
  • According to an August story in the Tampa Bay Times, Kelley’s identical twin sister Natalie Khawam, a Tampa lawyer who represents whistleblowers, is embroiled in a nasty lawsuit with her former employer, whom she has accused of sexual harassment and other charges. The employer has fought back with court documents claiming Khawam has a “history of abusing the litigation process.” According to a bankruptcy petition she filed this year, Khawam lives with the Kelleys in Tampa, and owes $3.2 million in unpaid debt. According to the Chicago Tribune, Khawam was also involved in a brutal custody fight with her former husband, Grayson Wolfe, a Washington, D.C.-based venture capitalist who once worked for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. The New York Post reports today that Petraeus wrote a letter in support of Khawam to the court in the case, although we have not been able to confirm this. According to the Post, the judge called Khawam a “psychologically unstable person,” and awarded Wolfe sole custody of the 3-year-old child the couple. 
  • Kelley triggered the FBI investigation into Petraeus — and subsequently Allen and herself — when she told a friend in the FBI about the email threats. That FBI agent was removed from the case, after his supervisors decided he had become infatuated with Kelley. The agent also sent Kelley shirtless photos of himself, although accounts differ on whether the photos were sent before or after she told him about the Petraeus emails. (To make matters weirder, that same FBI agent contacted Washington Republican Congressman Dave Reichert in late October to tip him off to the Petraeus scandal, after the agent became convinced that the harassment case was being stalled as part of a coverup to protect Obama.)
  • When news of the scandal broke this Sunday, Jill Kelley continued to throw a birthday party for one of her daughters at their home, despite the growing media mob outside the house. But by Monday, the family had left the home and hired Washington superlawyer Abbe Lowell, who represented John Edwards, and crisis PR manager Judy Smith, who has worked for Monica Lewinsky and Kobe Bryant.

But there are still quite a few unanswered questions about Kelley and her relationship with two of the nation’s leading military and intelligence officers — not least of which is what could possibly be in the thousands of pages of correspondence between her and Allen.