TAMPA, Fla. – A Tampa socialite embroiled in the scandal that cost CIA Director David Petraeus his job fought back Tuesday after more than two weeks of silence as her attorneys released emails, telephone recordings and other material that they say show she never tried to exploit her friendship with Petraeus.
Jill Kelley, through her attorneys, went on the attack against a New York businessman who accused her of incompetence in her work trying to set up a deal he was negotiating with South Korean companies; an attorney who accused her of name-dropping and of being a social climber; and the FBI agent who first leaked her name in connection with the Petraeus scandal.
Kelley, 37, became the focus of national media attention earlier this month after it was revealed that she was the recipient of anonymous emails from Paula Broadwell, Petraeus’ biographer and mistress.
Broadwell allegedly told Kelley she should stay away from the former general and Gen. John Allen, who had replaced Petraeus as leader of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Petraeus and Allen had become friends with Kelley and her husband, Scott Kelley, a noted cancer surgeon, when the generals served at U.S. Central Command, which is headquartered at Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base. Kelley became an unofficial social ambassador for the base, hosting numerous parties for the officers.
The scandal this week cost Kelley her appointment as an honorary consul for the South Korean government, which she had gotten because of her friendship with Petraeus. The Koreans said she had misused the title in her personal business dealings.
Kelley’s attorneys sent a cease-and-desist letter to New York businessman Adam Victor; a complaint to the Florida bar against Tampa attorney Barry Cohen, and a letter to the U.S. Attorney’s Office demanding that it investigate to find out who in the FBI leaked her name to the news media. Representatives of attorney Abbe Lowell emailed copies of the letters to the Associated Press.
In one of the letters, Lowell asks W. Stephen Muldrow, the assistant U.S. Attorney in Tampa, why Jill and Scott Kelley’s names were released in the course of the FBI’s investigation of Petraeus and Broadwell. Lowell said federal privacy laws could be applicable to the couple’s information.
“As you know, there are several rules and laws that seek to protect United States citizens against such leaks,” Lowell wrote.
He also wanted to know whether the U.S. Attorney’s Office was investigating the source of the leaks.
Another letter spoke of a business deal that Kelley tried to broker with South Korea.
In a Nov. 14 interview with the AP, Victor said it had become clear that Kelley was not a skilled negotiator and that he had wasted his time dealing with her.
In a letter released Tuesday and dated Nov. 21, Lowell accused Victor of seeking his “15 minutes of fame” by talking to the news media about his client. Lowell said Victor had defamed Kelley with his clients and misstated her desire for 2 percent of the profits by saying she wanted 2 percent of the entire deal.