Florida socialite Jill Kelley found herself embroiled in the General David Petraeus sex scandal after it was revealed that Petraues’ mistress and biographer, Paula Broadwell, had been sending her threatening emails. But the media grew really interested after it came to light that the FBI agent to whom she had turned for help sent her a shirtless photo of himself, that she had exchanged thousands of “flirtatious” emails with General John Allen, and that she tried to claim diplomatic immunity as an “honorary consul” for South Korea.
“The whole thing is pretty fascinating really, in part because we know so much about this woman, her email habits, and stuff like her mounting foreclosure, but we never really heard from this woman about the stuff we know,” The Atlantic wrote.
The majority of the article consists of Kelley denying any wrongdoing, but after months of mystery it’s certainly worthwhile to hear her version of events. Here are the highlights.
1. Kelley describes her relationship with Paula Broadwell:
Kelley says she was “terrified” late last summer when [her husband] told her about the email. In that note and the barrage that followed, “there was blackmail, extortion, threats”…
But the writer was so ambiguous, says Kelley, that “I didn’t even know it was a female.”
Contradicting virtually every published account of the saga, Kelley indicates that the anonymous emails did not warn her to stay away from Petraeus, as is commonly assumed. And yet the press depicted the two of them as “romantic rivals. Think how bizarre that is,” Kelley says.
Kelley says she had never met Broadwell “in [her] life” when the threatening notes began, but that it was public knowledge that she and Petraeus were close friends. She did not speculate on Broadwell’s motivation, but the Daily Beast writes that Broadwell’s jealousy is “evident” in retrospect.
2. Kelley proceeded to describe why the FBI agent she had turned to for help sent her a shirtless photo of himself:
In alerting an acquaintance at the FBI, she says, “I did what anybody else would have done when they were feeling threatened, to go seek protection from somebody I could trust.” (The story soared on the titillation index with reports that the agent, Fred Humphries, had sent Kelley a shirtless photo. But she says it was a joke—Humphries is posing with two dummies—and was sent to many people, including his wife.)
3. So what about the 30,000 reported emails with General Allen?
Kelley bristles at those eye-catching media reports that she and Allen exchanged as many as 30,000 emails, calling the figure “outrageous.” While Kelley will not provide an estimate, she says she believes the emails totaled in the hundreds.
Dee Dee Myers, Broadwell’s spokeswoman, says “the Justice Department thoroughly looked at this and declined to prosecute.” That decision, says Myers, “makes a pretty bold statement about the content of the emails…People can make their own judgments based on that.”
4. But still, how does she explain “hundreds” of emails with a married man?
These emails have been described by some unnamed government officials as flirtatious and potentially inappropriate. But Kelley told me they were so innocent that they were sent and received under an account she shares with her husband because she lacks her own email address. She also says Allen’s wife was often copied on the notes.
“It was pretty straightforward,” Kelley says.
5. Kelley also comments on why both generals wrote letters on behalf of her “unstable” twin sister in court:
She does not find it unusual that both Allen and Petraeus wrote letters to the court on behalf of her sister Natalie in a case in which her twin is trying to regain custody of a child from her estranged husband. Natalie moved in with her family after the split, says Kelley, and developed her own friendship with the generals.
6. She also, in the words of The Atlantic, doesn’t “like looking poor”:
She says that when the family faced litigation over credit-card debts, it stemmed from a decision to let an investment property go into foreclosure in a down market after they evicted the tenant.
The press “made it look like I’m throwing parties yet I’m broke, made it look like we’re deadbeats,” Kelley says. “It’s offensive.”
7. If she had to compare her plight to another well-known figure, who would it be?
Kelley adamantly refuses to characterize her feelings toward Broadwell, an academic and former Army officer. But she does not discourage a comparison of her plight to that of Nancy Kerrigan, the figure skater who had to withdraw from a national championship in 1994 after being clubbed in the knee with a tire iron. That, of course, would put Broadwell in the role of Tonya Harding, who helped cover up the attack.
8. How does Daily Beast author Howard Kurtz describe the woman?
Her dark eyes flashed when she was upset, and she paused occasionally to smooth her mane of shoulder-length black hair.
Kelley has a natural ease and a certain exotic flair. She was born in Lebanon, which her parents fled when she and her twin sister, Natalie Khawam, were 1-year olds.
Bottom line, Kelley says she wants people to know that she’s “a dedicated mother’ and “a loving wife.”
“I support the troops,” she added, “I take pride in feeding the homeless in our community…The whole situation is just very sad.”
- Here’s the Shirtless Photo the FBI Agent Involved in the Petraeus Scandal Sent to Jill Kelley
- Is One of the Women Involved in the Petraeus Scandal a Spy? You’ll Never Believe Who’s Making the Case
- NYPost: Both Gen. Petraeus and Gen. Allen Intervened on Behalf of Jill Kelley’s ‘Unstable’ Sister in Custody Battle