TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — If you were to diagram the increasingly tangled sex scandal surrounding former CIA Director David Petraeus, nearly all lines would lead back to one person: Jill Kelley, a 37-year-old Tampa socialite who hosted parties for the nation's top military brass.
Kelley's complaint about anonymous, threatening email triggered the FBI investigation that led to Petraeus' downfall. And now she is at the center of an investigation of the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan over alleged "inappropriate communications" between the two.
Kelley is a close friend of the Petraeus family, and photographs circulating in the media show the dark-haired woman posing for pictures at parties with Petraeus, his wife, and her husband, Scott, a cancer surgeon. She served as a sort of unofficial social ambassador for U.S. Central Command in Tampa, holding gatherings for the general when he was commander there from 2008 to 2010.
She also met Gen. John Allen while he was at Central Command, and now investigators are looking at 20,000-plus pages of documents and emails between Kelley and Allen, some of which have been described as "flirtatious." The general has denied any wrongdoing.
For her part, Kelley has taken a low profile since Petraeus' affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, became public. The Kelleys have hired Washington lawyer Abbe Lowell, who has represented corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff and former presidential candidate John Edwards. Lowell did not immediately return a call.
On Tuesday, Kelley could be seen through the large windows of her South Tampa home, a stately two-story brick house with a half-dozen white columns and a manicured lawn. In the driveway was a silver Mercedes with a license plate marked "Honorary Counsel." Kelley's identical twin sister, Natalie Khawam, a lawyer, also lives at the home.
In the afternoon, Kelley, wearing dark sunglasses, left through the front door and ignored reporters' questions as she drove off in the Mercedes.
South Tampa has a conservative Southern upper class, with big houses, big bank accounts, garden clubs and wives who pride themselves on volunteer work. MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., headquarters to Central Command, is a big deal in the community, in part because a lot of the brass lives or socializes in South Tampa. Helping members of the military is a major volunteer activity in the community.
Former Mayor Pam Iorio said that she went to several parties to benefit the military at the Kelleys' home, and they drew MacDill's top brass, including Petraeus. But they were by far not the only parties held around the city for MacDill's officers.
"Our community's relationship with MacDill is just multi-faceted," said Iorio, who later invited the Petraeuses over to her own home for dinner. "It's something that is generational. People sincerely care about the military."
Ken Walters, a neighbor who is known for hosting a Frank Sinatra-themed party each year, called the Kelleys good friends and said he went to a party the couple had to celebrate their first son's baptism. The Kelleys have two other children.
"Natalie and her sister, they're certainly not shrinking violets," he said. Walters recalled that when the sisters first entered the South Tampa social scene, they "rubbed people the wrong way. I think they probably stepped on a couple of toes."
Petraeus' affair with Broadwell was discovered after Kelley told an FBI agent friend that she had received email warning her to stay away from Petraeus. The email turned out to be from Broadwell, who apparently regarded Kelley as a rival for Petraeus' affections. Kelley's family and Petraeus aides have said Petraeus and Kelley were just friends.
In another strange footnote to the scandal, long before the case involving Petraeus got under way, the FBI agent had sent Kelley shirtless photos of himself, according to a federal law enforcement official.
Kelley's brother, David Khawam, told WPVI-TV in Philadelphia on Monday night that details of the allegations surged fast.
"It's a shock. We're trying to figure out where the pieces are falling right now," he said in an interview at his office in Westmont, N.J.
He said that his family left Lebanon for suburban Philadelphia's Huntingdon Valley in the 1970s to escape the turmoil and fighting in their homeland. His parents opened a Middle Eastern food restaurant in Vorhees, N.J., called Sahara.
"My family is very patriotic; we came from Lebanon at a young age," he said.
Kelley later married and moved to Florida with her husband, who works at a cancer clinic.
Kelley regularly kept in touch with Petraeus when he became commander of the Afghanistan war, the two exchanging near-daily emails and instant messages, two of his former staffers said. But those messages were exchanged in accounts that his aides monitored as part of their duties and were not romantic in tone, the staffers said.
Jill and Scott Kelley have been involved in at least nine legal actions since arriving in Tampa, according to court records. Most
of them involve real estate transactions, including one foreclosure and an $11,000 judgment against the couple in a Pennsylvania case.
In another twist in the scandal, court records indicate that Petraeus and Allen intervened two months ago in a messy custody dispute on behalf of Jill Kelley's sister. Both four-star generals wrote letters supporting Natalie Khawam in her custody battle.
The judge in the case awarded Khawam's ex-husband custody last year of their son. He also called Khawam dishonest and lacking in integrity.
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
A national campaign wants the NFL's Washington Redskins to change its name to not be offensive to Native Americans, and it could effect teams across the country.
The Lilly Endowment Inc. has given more than $62 million to 39 Indiana colleges and universities to increase employment opportunities for college graduates. receive
A two-car crash tied up traffic for a short time on Illinois Road at the entrance to Jefferson Pointe.
It's been a year since FBI agents and police raided several homes in Fort Wayne. The center of the investigation was Michael Fabini's home.
Contrary to popular belief, poinsettias are not toxic to humans or pets. Some mild side effects are possible if they are eaten.
A Fort Wayne man had the opportunity to have lunch with Nelson Mandela 20 years ago. He says the experience is something he has carried with him throughout the years.
The suspects face bank robbing charges, as well as charges of assaulting and putting in jeopardy the lives of others.
The yellow brick building that served for decades as the club house for the Elks Lodge 155 golf course in Fort Wayne is being demolished.
Buffalo Wild Wings donated $6,500 to the Boys & Girls Club's Fairfield location on Friday afternoon. The money will be used for youth sports tournaments.
A new event promises 12 days of delicious deals at Fort Wayne restaurants in January.
A woman arrested for shoplifting at a Fort Wayne Walmart identified herself as her husband's ex-wife when she was actually the man's current wife. The ex-wife then ended up getting arrested when the real wife failed to show up for court.
Gov. Mike Pence has ordered flags at Indiana state facilities to be flown at half-staff in tribute of Nelson Mandela and is asking businesses and residents to do so also to honor the world leader.
A big chunk of the U.S. is getting a blast of wintry weather. Some areas are experiencing frigid temperatures. Some are seeing snow and ice. Several deaths have been reported, most resulting from treacherous driving conditions. Hundreds of…
Frigid temperatures and a cold Saint Joseph River didn't stop approximately 100 students from jumping into the river as part of Homecoming Week at IPFW.
The Salvation Army and Toys for Tots are seeing a decline in donations this year because of a late Thanksgiving.