Philly’s Jill Kelley finally dishes about Petraeus scandal

Jill Kelley
Jill Kelley
Posted: January 23, 2013

The Florida socialite with Philly roots who inadvertently toppled a CIA director has finally spelled out her side of the story.

Jill Kelley told Howard Kurtz of that she was threatened with blackmail, didn't know the threats came from a woman, never pressed charges, never swapped 30,000 e-mails with a general, and never asked for an $80 million fee to land a deal with South Korea.

In November, just after the presidential election, David Petraeus, who rose to fame as commander of allied military forces in Afghanistan, resigned as CIA chief, amid allegations of an affair with biographer Paula Broadwell.

Kelley, who grew up in Voorhees and Northeast Philadelphia, unwittingly helped bring the affair to light when she reported threatening e-mails to a friend in the FBI, which traced them to Broadwell.

Apparently, Broadwell didn't like Kelley's friendliness toward Petraeus and his successor in Afghanistan, Gen. John R. Allen.

In those e-mails, Kelley told Kurtz, Newsweek's Washington bureau chief, during a two-hour sit-down, "there was blackmail, extortion, threats," and the writer was so vague "I didn't even know it was a female."

Contrary to reports, "the anonymous e-mails did not warn her to stay away from Petraeus, as is commonly assumed," Kurtz writes.

"Bizarre" is how Kelley characterized news reports that somehow she and Broadwell were "romantic rivals."

"I never met Paula in my life," Kelley told Kurtz, and didn't even know about All In, Broadwell's Petraeus biography, published last January.

On the heels of the Petraeus resignation, Kelley's connection became public, and her life was disrupted by the zealous and sometimes-inaccurate media frenzy.

"It was devastating," said the Lebanese-born married mother of three. ". . . Instead of enjoying a family birthday party, I had paparazzi storming my front lawn, pushing down the door. There are no words to describe the panic and fear at that moment."

She "flatly denies" speculation she had an affair with Allen, and said they exchanged not 30,000 e-mails, but perhaps hundreds - on an account she shares with her husband.

Federal prosecutors decided not to file charges over the threatening e-mails, after Kelley declined to press charges, Kurtz writes. She didn't want to disrupt more lives, she said.

She also disputed reports that "I'm throwing parties yet I'm broke," that she asked for $80 million to help a New York businessman secure huge energy deal with South Korea, and that she wasted money raised for cancer research. It all came from her and husband, she said.

She saw nothing inappropriate with Allen and Petraeus writing letters to a court on behalf of her twin sister, Natalie, in a child custody case.

"Just because it's repeated doesn't make it true," Jill Kelley said of media allegations. "It was living a nightmare."

Wikipedia even has her date of birth wrong, she said.

Calling herself "a dedicated mother, a loving wife," she added, "This whole situation is just very sad."

For more of the lengthy discussion, go to

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or


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