Jill Kelley, the Florida socialite at the centre of the David Petraeus sex scandal, took multiple flights on military aircraft at taxpayers expenses, it was claimed today.
Jill Kelley even reportedly flew to Washington D.C. with General John Allen – the military commander she is said to have exchanged tens of thousands of emails with while he was in Afghanistan.
It is not known why Jill Kelley, 37, flew to the U.S. capital with John Allen but it has emerged that in recent months she has had three visits to the White House.
The mother of three from Tampa has so far refused to comment publicly on her role in the scandal that ended the career of CIA Director David Petraeus and put the distinguished career of General John Allen in jeopardy.
The commander of the coalition forces in Afghanistan is under investigation for “flirty” emails said to number as many as 30,000 that he exchanged with Jill Kelley.
An investigation by 10 News Tampa has revealed that Jill Kelley, whose complaint over threatening emails revealed David Petraeus’ affair, has enjoyed several trips on military planes.
The news stations said they have made several requests to defense officials to see how many times Jill Kelley has flown from the MacDill Air Force base where she acted as an unpaid social liaison officer.
Pentagon officials told News 10 they have not been able to track down the exact number of flights. But they did confirm she flew on a KC-135 jet in May 2010.
The KC-135 jets are primarily used to refuel other aircraft in mid-air.
“It’s an educational opportunity for people to just see what hard working military members are doing each day,” Lt. Col. Jack Miller told the TV station.
Jill Kelley, the Florida socialite at the centre of the David Petraeus sex scandal, took multiple flights on military aircraft at taxpayers expenses
Officials said about 150 people each year take an orientation flight at MacDill, with the flights leaving and then returning to Tampa.
“I’ve seen anything from community leaders to Cub Scouts to sports teams.
“But by in large, it’s generally folks throughout the community that just have an interest in the instillation. Sometimes it’s just a matter of requesting to do it.”
Jill Kelley, who is mired in debt and facing foreclosure on her $1.3 million home overlooking Tampa Bay, sparked the investigation into David Petraeus after she went to the FBI after receiving threatening emails from Paula Broadwell, the general’s biographer.
The latest example of how she rubbed shoulders with the military’s top brass comes after it emerged she has visited the White House three times in the past three months.
Jill Kelley and her twin sister, Natalie Khawam, were invited to two “courtesy” meals in the Executive Mansion mess hall as a guest of a White House aide.
She met the mid-level aide through her work with MacDill Air Force Base near Tampa, where she also rubbed shoulders with the military bosses including General David Petraeus.
On one further occasion, she received a White House tour with her family, the official added.
It confirms that Jill Kelley was telling the truth in an email she wrote to a reporter at the Tampa Bay Times on September 28, in which she boasted of visiting the White House.
“Btw I was made the [honorary] Ambassador to US Central Command’s Coalition!” Jill Kelley wrote.
“In addition to that, I was just recently appointed to be the Honorary Consulate General to South Korea! I’m in DC today – just left from breakfast at the White House…. I really hope to see you soon!”
In further examples of her attempts to use her contacts to her advantage, Jill Kelley sent a string of pleading emails to the Tampa Mayor, complaining she has been receiving threats and claiming: “The truth will one day prevail.”
The anguished messages, seen by the Tampa Bay Times, were sent to Bob Buckhorn, whom she knows socially, and claimed her children were scared and her husband had been forced to sleep at work.
The Tampa, Florida, military base that has gained notoriety for its connection to General David Petraeus’ sex scandal has been compared to Wisteria Lane from the show Desperate Housewives where out-of-control parties with top brass are a nightly occurrence, and where social climbing is a favorite pastime.
Those visiting MacDill Air Force Base for the first time will likely be surprised to see the sprawling bay front homes with covered porches, the upscale gym, golf course, boat rentals and other trappings of the good life that bear little resemblance to nearly any other military outpost.
“It’s the nicest base I’ve ever seen,” a private contractor with base access told The Daily Beast.
“It blew me away, as far as what the taxpayers pay for.”
People familiar with the culture of MacDill say they are not surprised by the recent revelations that David Petraeus had an affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell, which was made public after Jill Kelley, a Tampa socialite with close ties to the base, set off an FBI investigation into the CIA director’s mistress.
Jill Kelley, described as a social climber and fierce self-promoter who was obsessed with powerful men, allegedly exchanged flirtatious emails with another general, John Allen, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan.
The sexual intrigue and heady mix of power and wealth appear to be mainstays on the military base known in Tampa as Wisteria Lane, referring to the infamous street where the philandering characters of Desperate Housewives reside.
“It’s well-known in social circles that all the big wigs do a lot of partying,” said Jack Belich, a private investigator in nearby St. Petersburg told the Daily Beast.
“That’s just part of the way they operate over there, and Tampa has always had these social gadflies and liaisons.”
MacDill Air Force Base, which has gained notoriety for its connection to David Petraeus’ sex scandal, has been compared to Wisteria Lane from Desperate Housewives
Jill Kelley was well-connected with people on the base, among them a White House attorney who gave her and her family access to the presidential residence on three separate occasions.
Tampa Bay Magazine Editor Aaron Fodiman described Jill Kelley as “charming, lovely, and vivacious” hostess who would frequently throw parties for top military officials at her lavish $1.3 million home on Bayshore Boulevard.
Aaron Fodiman pointed out, however, that Jill Kelley was just one of “hundreds” of people in the affluent community eager to entertain military heroes who have been enjoying a superstar status in Tampa.
Jill Kelley was one of about 800 members of Friends of MacDill who are allowed to access the base unescorted in the daytime hours.
Tim Sweeney, a fellow member of the group, said that its purpose is to involve the community in the base’s daily life, and most of those who participate are driven by noble motives, not by a desire to get rich or make a name for oneself.
That said, Tim Sweeney conceded that the top military brass in Tampa are the people that Jill Kelley and her ilk would have wanted to rub shoulders with.
“MacDill folks are the closest thing Tampa comes to having real celebrities. The Kelley’s are clearly the exception to the rule,” Tim Sweeney said.
“I just think it was a way for them to become socially prominent in the community.”
Jill Kelley has been tied to the scandal that prompted the resignation of retired General David Petraeus as CIA director.
David Petraeus admitted having an affair with his married biographer, Paula Broadwell.
Federal officials say Paula Broadwell sent emails to Jill Kelley, perceiving her as a romantic rival. That FBI investigation uncovered emails between Jill Kelley and Gen. John Allen during his time as head of Central Command in Tampa.