Jill Kelley: Military Liaison and Whistleblower in Petraeus Scandal

Everything you need to know about the second woman at the center of the scandal that brought down CIA director David Petraeus.

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Chris O'Meara / AP

Jill Kelley leaves her home Monday, Nov 12, 2012 in Tampa, Fla.

As whole baskets of dirty laundry are newly aired in the ongoing scandal that prompted the resignation of CIA director David Petraeus, attention is increasingly focusing on a Florida woman named Jill Kelley.

Petraeus, a former Army General and the architect of U.S. strategies in Iraq and Afghanistan,  resigned from his CIA post after admitting to an affair, allegedly with his biographer Paula Broadwell. It now appears that Kelley played a key role in bringing their relationship to light. The Tampa-based military liaison and longtime friend of the Petraeus family reportedly reached out to a contact at the FBI after receiving email threats from Broadwell.

Now, the 37-year-old Kelley has been implicated in a possibly inappropriate relationship with a top U.S. commander in Afghanistan. The FBI is currently investigating a slew of emails between her and Marine Corps General John Allen – “20,000 to 30,000 pages of emails” exchanged between 2010 and 2012, messages that have been called “flirtatious” by a senior defense official. Allen was poised to become Supreme Allied Commander Europe this week, but his nomination has been put on hold in light of the widening scandal. Both he and Kelley, who has retained a lawyer and a team of crisis management advisers, have denied any wrongdoing.

Fast Facts about Jill Kelley:

  • Works as an unpaid social liaison at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla. (via Business Insider)
  • Lives with her husband Scott and three young daughters in a $1.2 million mansion on Bayshore Boulevard in South Tampa. (via Tampa Bay Times)
  • Has been friends with the Petraeus family from the time when David Petraeus was leader of the U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base between 2008 and 2010. (via Gawker)
  • Met the Petraeuses through her charitable work for military families in Tampa. (via CBS)

Brian Blanco / Reuters

The house belonging to Jill Kelley, a friend of the Petraeus family, is seen on Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa, Florida November 12, 2012.

  • Was a frequent guest at U.S. Central Command functions.
  • Regularly kept in touch with Petraeus after he became the commander of the Afghanistan war effort and moved away from Tampa. The two exchanged emails and instant messages on a daily basis, though the messages were not romantic in nature and were sent using monitored accounts. (via AP)
  • Bragged that she had been named “honorary consulate general to South Korea” in September.

(MORE: Petraeus Scandal Ensnares Top Afghan Commander)

  • Her husband, Dr. Scott Kelley, is a prominent cancer surgeon at the Watson Clinic in Lakeland, Fla.
  • Known to host glamorous parties at her home in Tampa.
  • Has hired Abbe Lowell, one of the attorneys who defended John Edwards earlier this year on corruption charges.

(TWO-MIN BIO: Paula Broadwell: Petraeus’ Biographer and Alleged Mistress)

  • Also hired Judy Smith, a Washington, D.C. public relations executive and a former spokesperson for George W. Bush, who also represented Monica Lewinsky after her affair with Bill Clinton.
  • Kelley appeared on the Food Network’s reality program Food Fight in 2003. (via St. Petersburg Times)
  • Grew up in Philadelphia after her family emigrated from Lebanon and opened a Middle Eastern restaurant. (via Philadelphia Inquirer)
  • Her father, John Khawam, was a renowned organist in Lebanon.
  • Has a twin sister, Natalie Khawam, who was involved in a custody dispute with ex-husband Grayson Wolfe over their four-year-old son. Both Petraeus and Allen are said to have intervened in the custody battle, writing letters on behalf of Khawam (allegedly at Kelley’s behest) to reverse a judge’s ruling that denied her custody. In the ruling, the judge supposedly called Khawam a “psychologically unstable person.” (via New York Post)


  • “We and our family have been friends with Gen. Petraeus and his family for over five years. We respect his and his family’s privacy and want the same for us and our three children.” (A statement released Nov. 11 by the Kelley family)
  • “I’ve done nothing wrong. I’m the victim here. But it still feels awful.” (In a telephone conversation with her brother David Khawam, a N.J. lawyer, via Washington Post)


  • Regarding her relationship with Petraeus: “They attended events together. They spend Christmas at each other’s homes. There was nothing untoward. No affair-like thing between them. They were strictly friends.” (Steven Boylan, Petraeus’s public affairs officer in Iraq in 2007 and 2008, via Washington Post)
  • “She would say he was kind of like a grandpa to her girls.” (an unnamed friend of Kelley’s, via The Telegraph)

MORE: The Petraeus Affair: Lessons for the Kids