(Matthew Solan) The mystery woman who blew the lid off former CIA Director David Petraeus’ career-ending affair is also tied to the military — a sexy social liaison for an Air Force base in Tampa who says she and the ex-general are just “friends.”
Jill Kelley, 37, a married mother of three from the Gulf Coast city, alerted the FBI several months ago after receiving emails from Petraeus’ alleged mistress, biographer Paula Broadwell, warning the stunning Tampa socialite to “stay away from” the spymaster, according to sources with knowledge of the messages.
BILL SERNE/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Jill Kelley with Vice Admiral Robert Harward and husband, Scott, in Tampa Fla.
The raven-haired Kelley, who has an unpaid position as a social planner for MacDill Air Force Base, insisted in a statement Sunday her relationship with the retired four-star general and ex-CIA director was platonic, dating to when Petraeus ran the U.S. Central Command from the base.
“We and our family have been friends with Gen. Petraeus and his family for over five years,” Kelley said. “We respect his family’s privacy and want the same for us and our three children.”
AMY SCHERZER/TAMPA BAY TIMES
Kelley is seen with Petraeus and his wife Holly in 2010. (From L to R) Natalie Khawam, Gen. David Petraeus, Dr. Scott Kelley, his wife Jill Kelley and Holly Petraeus, the wife of Gen. David Petraeus, watching the Gasparilla parade from the comfort of tent on the Kelleys front lawn on Jan. 30. 2010, in Tampa, Fla.
But Broadwell’s father said Sunday his daughter is the victim of character assassination and implied the bombshell story is just a smoke screen for something bigger.
“This is about something else entirely, and the truth will come out,” Broadwell’s dad, Paul Krantz, told the Daily News outside his home in Bismarck, N.D.
“There is a lot more that is going to come out,” said Krantz, claiming he was not allowed to elaborate. “You wait and see. There’s a lot more here than meets the eye.”
He said he supports his daughter “100%.”
CSM MARVIN L. HILL
Paula Broadwell flying with General Petraeus to Afghanistan in June 2011. Petraeus resigned as head of the CIA because he was having an affair with the author.
“I stand by my daughter. She is an exceptional person,” Krantz told The News, adding that Broadwell, a West Point grad, and her family were “doing well, considering.”
Kelley has not spoken publicly about the scandal. She and her husband, Dr. Scott Kelley, were busy Sunday entertaining guests at a birthday party for one of their daughters at their colonial-style mansion overlooking Tampa’s Hillsborough Bay.
BILL SERNE/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Photos taken of Jill Kelley in her front yard during a birthday gathering in Tampa, Fla.
In an exclusive photo obtained by The News, the Kelleys appeared worried while speaking with Vice Adm. Robert Harward, deputy commander of the Central Command, who showed up at the party in his white dress uniform.
Jill Kelley was raised in Philadelphia, where her family settled in the mid-1970s and opened a Middle Eastern restaurant after immigrating from Lebanon. Her father, John Khawam, was a renowned organist in Lebanon.
Members of Congress want to know whether national security was ever compromised in the Petraeus affair.
A close friend of Petraeus told ABC News that Kelley saw the general often, but their relationship was innocent.
“It is very clear there was nothing going on other than friendship between Kelley and Petraeus,” the friend said.
In 2010, Kelley and her husband, a surgeon at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, invited Petraeus and his wife of 38 years, Holly, to be their guests at a party for the Gasparilla parade, an annual pirate-themed festival in Tampa. At the time, Petraeus ran the Central Command from MacDill.
A June 23, 2011 photo shows Paula Broadwell (second from left) watching as Petraeus and his wife arrive for a Senate Select Intelligence Committee hearing on Petraeus’ nomination to be director of the CIA.
Kelley’s 7-year-old daughter, Caroline, even posted a family photo album online that she dedicated to her parents and included family photos — one of her and her sisters posing with Petraeus.
“I was with Gen. Petraeus. He came to my house,” Caroline wrote.
Broadwell’s extended family members were completely caught off guard by the news of Petraeus’ shocking resignation, which broke Friday.
“They didn’t find out about the affair until they saw it on the news Friday night,” the grandmother of Broadwell’s husband, Scott, told The News. “Everyone’s reaction was shock. We were all shell-shocked.”
T. ORTEGA GAINES/THE CHARLOTTE OBSERVER VIA AP
Paula Broadwell, author of the David Petraeus biography “All In,” poses for photos in Charlotte, N.C. Petraeus, the retired four-star general renowned for taking charge of the military campaigns in Iraq and then Afghanistan, abruptly resigned Friday, Nov. 9, 2012 as director of the CIA, admitting to an extramarital affair.
The grandmother, who would only give her first name, Sylvia, described Paula Broadwell as “intelligent and really smart.”
“She’s too smart for that,” said Sylvia, adding that her grandson is “a wonderful father to those two young kids.”
She said Scott Broadwell’s parents in Sanibel, Fla., “felt like the rug was pulled out from under them.”
“It’s a sad situation,” the grandmother said.
Petraeus began seeing Paula Broadwell, a writer with a military background, on the side in 2011, several months after he retired from the military, but ended the romance about four months ago, sources told ABC News.
BuzzFeed, citing sources, said he took her on a government-funded trip to Paris in July 2011.
Russell Broadwell, Scott’s father, confirmed to The News that he, too, was astonished by the news he first heard on TV Friday.
Asked if he has spoken to his son, Broadwell said, “Of course, he’s my son.” He refused to further comment.
Paula Broadwell, 40 (above), wrote the biography “All In: The Education of General David Petraeus.” She has yet to publicly comment on the scandal that has rocked Washington and the U.S. security community.
A source told The Wall Street Journal that Broadwell, who lives in North Carolina, became jealous when she suspected Kelley was in a romantic relationship with Petraeus.
Petraeus testifies on Capitol Hill in 2008.
Kelley’s twin sister, Natalie Khawam, is a lawyer who represents whistleblowers, but there was no indication Sunday that she was representing her sister.
The FBI probe into the menacing emails uncovered other exchanges between Broadwell and Petraeus’ personal email account that made clear their relationship had gone beyond professional limits, including one that talked about “sex under a desk.”
The scandal is spreading beyond the participants into the political arena. Several top lawmakers are demanding more information about what the FBI, the CIA and President Obama knew — and when they knew it.
Obama accepted the 60-year-old Petraeus’ resignation Friday, a mere three days after his reelection.
Petraeus is sworn in by Joe Biden as CIA director in the White House – as his wife looks on.
Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) confirmed Sunday he first learned of the affair several months ago from a friend who knows Kelley. Reichert told House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who put Kelley in touch with FBI Director Robert Mueller.
Cantor’s staff didn’t immediately tell the House Intelligence Committee or other House leaders because they didn’t know whether the information was credible, Fox News reported.
Retired U.S. Army Col. Steve Boylan, Petraeus’ former spokesman, said the general is kicking himself for his atrocious lack of judgment.
“He hugely regrets what happened,” Boylan told ABC News. “He pretty much threw away the best job he ever had and put his family through something just too hard to describe.”