Kelley’s financial strife adds clues to FBI email investigation

A prominent Tampa, Fla., social planner who has found herself at the center of a sex scandal ensnaring two of America’s most prominent generals has faced considerable financial problems that likely grabbed the attention of FBI investigators, experts said.

Jill Kelley, a volunteer social liaison at MacDill Air Force Base, home to U.S. Central Command, is the one who first reported the anonymous, threatening emails she received to the FBI. It’s been widely reported those emails came from Paula Broadwell, an Army reservist and biographer of retired Gen. David Petraeus, who felt Kelley was getting too close to the Army four-star.

The resulting investigation led to the resignation of Petraeus from his post as director of the CIA after admitting to carrying on an affair with Broadwell. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Tuesday the investigation into Kelley’s email correspondence now also includes Marine Corps Gen. John Allen, the top commander in Afghanistan.

A senior defense official said the FBI has uncovered over 30,000 pages of emails between Allen and Kelley over a two year span that started when Allen served as U.S. Central Command’s deputy commander. A Pentagon official described the emails as “inappropriate and flirtatious.” Allen has declined comment forwarding any requests to the Pentagon.

So far U.S. prosecutors have not charged either generals or the two women with any crimes. Minus any charges, some have questioned why the FBI completed such a thorough investigation into these four individual’s email accounts and why they publicly disclosed their affairs.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations subcommittee, might have opened a window into the FBI’s reasoning when he pointed out this morning on CNN the FBI would have needed to obtain a¬†Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant from a FISA Court to access private citizen’s emails.

A FISA warrant is only granted by the court if the FBI can prove the individual’s under surveillance pose a national security risk. An investigation connecting the CIA Director as well the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan is a start toward presenting such a threat.

A closer look at Jill Kelley’s background and the financial problems her and her husband have faced in recent years would have set off more red flags for FBI investigators and FISA Court judges. Debt is seen as one of the most serious threats to a military leader or agency official who holds a security clearance. Security analysts said a person’s financial history is one of the most important parts of an individual’s application for a security clearance — more so than even a drug test.

Kelley’s husband Scott is a prominent doctor in the Tampa community. However, the Tampa Bay Times reported that Central Bank filed a $2.2 million lawsuit against the Kelleys in 2011 for not making payments on a loan for a three-story office building in downtown Tampa.

The Central Bank lawsuit was one of nine against the Kelleys in the past decade dealing with credit card debt and missed payments on real estate. ¬†Court records show on going cases that “include an indebtedness case from Chase Bank; a foreclosure case from Regions Bank; and a credit card case from FIA Card Services,” the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Jill Kelley, 37, is not from Tampa Bay. She grew up in Pennsylvania with her four siblings. She is first generation American. Her parents moved to the U.S. from Lebanon in the 1970s.

She started to volunteer at MacDill after Kelley “organized galas and fashion shows benefiting the American Red Cross and the Tampa Museum of Art,” according to the Tampa paper. However, she couldn’t find her niche in those social circles and moved on to MacDill where she soon started organizing the most prominent military benefits for wounded warriors at the base.

The Kelley family soon befriended Petraeus and his wife as well as other leading members of the military brass who frequently visited CentCom headquarters. Those connections combined with her family’s financial problems would have motivated the FBI to look deeper into Kelley’s past.

“I can’t think of a better target for a foreign intelligence source than a woman who is connected to America’s top military leaders and who is also struggling financially,” said a Pentagon security official who asked not to be named.

About the Author

Michael Hoffman
Michael Hoffman is the executive editor at Tandem NSI and a contributor to Military.com. He can be reached at mhoffman@tandemnsi.com.
  • BlackOwl18E

    So now General John Allen is under investigation too? With General Petraeus and Christopher Kubasik from Lockheed that makes three major positions of power being changed for extramarital scandals. Something really fishy is going on and I don’t think it’s any coincidence that this has happened shortly after the election.

    • Brian

      This happened way before the election, you’re just learning about it now.

      • tmb2

        Brian, I think that’s the problem a lot of people are having with this situation. Did Petraeus or the FBI sit on this because of the election? Were they asked to hold off?

    • Musson

      This could originally have been an attempt to divert attention from the fact that the Benghazi compound was a CIA internment facility. (Can you say Waterboarding?)

      But now, this sex scandal has become an obsession with the Media.

    • IronV

      Yeah. It’s fishy. Extra-marital dalliances have been secretly and systematically encouraged by the Obama Administration as part of their plot to undermine family values. But they were so focused on the objective, they didn’t see the election coming, so had to take evasive action at the last minute in a desparate attempt at a cover up. But Congressional Republicans are not fooled. They know it’s all part of the larger but also secret socialist/muslim agenda…

    • Phil

      It does seem a bit curios especially a few weeks after Petreus making the statement about the CIA not telling anyone to stand down in Benghazi. payback maybe?

  • TonyC

    Eddie Murphy will be the new CIA director!!!

  • Noel

    There is a reality show opportunity here somewhere.

    • blight_

      Real Directors of the CIA…

      Though “Real Politicians of Washington DC” will follow six politicians, three Dems and three Republicans as they prove that they are truly for sale to the highest bidder.

  • Terry

    Just don’t want them to get distracted from Benghazi with all this “Real Housewives” drama. It’s all smoke and mirrors.

  • Mastro

    30,000 emails?? If the FBI didn’t investigate Comcast, etc might–for them hogging the internet.

  • Lance

    Wow this woman gets around. When dose Obama admit he ”knew her” LOL be great if that happened.

    Seems the social pool in the Pentagon is smaller than most suspect.

  • What about private life?

    • Ron

      No private life in the military

  • Musson

    At lease he was smart enough not to get mixed up with one of those female astronauts! They are the real crazy ex-girlfriends.

  • Norman99

    I cant get an email restored I deleted a week ago. Yet the FBI can go back years and retrieve emails. Now what in the hell is going on. But on the bright side Patreeus will be subpoenaed by congrees on the Benghazi tragedy. Looks like the whole thing backfired on whoever came up with this. Should make for some interesting reading in the up coming weeks and months. One more thing. If these Generals are that stupid to leave a paper trail makes you wonder what they are doing to earn their pay.

  • Tad

    Next we’ll hear that President Clinton says he’s “just friends” with the two ladies.

  • Pat

    How does one generate 30,000 pages of emails? You’d get carpal tunnel syndrome doing that. I’ve work at my job for 18 years and have never generated anywhere close to that amount.

  • Tribulationtime

    it seems weird all that FBI attention for sex matters…..I suppose nobody would reckonise what…..someone is linked with counterfait parts from China. I mean it is better to shawllow by public opinion than say : This is the security breach and this plan, this weapon system and this encryptation code is useless. i think so. CIA – Lebanon- Hezbollah-Israel-Syria-Iran….. too much frightening to think about.

    • Menzie

      If we let things like pillow talk lead to other nefarious actions we have failed to learn from history. Sex has corrupted and compromised many historical public figures and helped in the eventual downfall of ancient civilizations. Greece, Rome, Assyria, Egypt. The FBI was right in investigating this. What if (unlikely) Kelly had turned out to be a deep cover agent trying to turn the top CIA official and the top Afghanistan General? Those are 2 heavy hitters and would be a perfect addition to the intelligence assets of a potentially hostile foreign country. They don’t have to be the Russians. Hell China would love this, even some f our allies would. Think of the British Govt in the 60s and 70s with quasi CIA and State Department hooks in the then British PM. It doesn’t have to be military intelligence gained, there are huge benefits economically from knowing trends and future developments. Billions and ultimately trillions of dollars can be made with an ear to the ground or a wall-flower in the right places.

  • Kim

    From a NY Times article on the subject:

    “There should be an investigation not of the personal behavior of General Petraeus and General Allen but of what surveillance powers the F.B.I. used to look into their private lives,” Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said in an interview. “This is a textbook example of the blurring of lines between the private and the public.”

  • ms6

    Lebanese spy!!!!!

  • Chris

    The plot thickens and the BS rises.

  • Marcellus Hambrick

    Why are military and CIA held to higher standards than President Clinton was? Just wondering.

    • james gumb

      If you don’t know, then it really doesn’t matter, does it?

  • Chris

    BTW, first generation American from Lebanon, and hanging out at CENTCOM. Which has area responsibility for SWA. This will make one hell of a movie script. Lots of people with stars had their heads up their 4th Point of Contact.

    • brian

      hell look at the huma chick who is the deputy sec of state. her ENTIRE family are known members of the muslim brotherhood.

    • Menzie

      I agree Chris, this is so much like a movie script and these “teenagers” should be acting like adults in positions of great power. Their lives are not private as some would argue. There is no what happens in Vegas with the Director of the CIA, or the top General of the Marines. If they want private life, quit and live a quiet life out of the public’s eye. No one in such power should be out of sight even in their “private life”. They work for us so they should act like it. I would not expect privacy if I was either of them or the President so why should anyone else think they should be able to carry on like teenagers. What if like you insinuate or remarked upon the possibility that Kelly is a spy for a foreign intelligence service. It doesn’t have to be Lebanon just because she is Lebanese. Privacy Advocates, you are on the wrong forum. If they were private individuals Id be right beside you but they are NOT!!!

      • blight_

        Even the “best” American leaks to the Soviet Union weren’t avowed communists: they were simply greedy, in debt, or bored counterespionage guys (grr Hansen).

  • Marcellus Hambrick

    What next? An Iranian in the US involved with a US general or admiral? A Venezuelan?

    • Menzie

      So true. I do not think many of the pro-privacy posters realize the importance of this issue. They would cry bloody murder if one gave out secrets but all is fine until then, as if they want to have blinders on.

  • Marcellus Hambrick

    What next? An Iranian in the US involved with a US general or admiral? A Venezuelan? Huh?

  • cpauld

    UCMJ Article 134 covers adultery. The third condition is what I refer to as the General Officer Escape Clause!

  • Roy Smith

    I don’t know if it has been mentioned here,but Jill Kelley also has a twin sister who is involved with this scandal.

    “David Petraeus affair: Florida twins courted generals and racked up millions in debt”
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northam

    • blight_

      Smart gals.

  • Tical65

    Since i keep seeing Benghazi brought up, correct me if i’m wrong but isn’t the Ambassador to a mission or embassy ultimately in charge of the security? Do not he or she decide the level of security they want or will allow at a embassy or consulate?

    • blight_

      The thing is the ambassador wasn’t at the embassy in Tripoli, but at a minor consulate in Benghazi, allegedly before opening a hospital or somesuch the next day. He took a tiny security detail with him on 9/11 of all days.

      As others have mentioned, he probably wanted a small footprint to hide, and not a large footprint to dig in and defend.

      I wonder if the AQ guys deliberately wanted to get the ambassador or not. It is possible they saw an HVT with his PSD…or just saw the PSD and assumed it was related to the CIA’s nearby annex.

    • Menzie

      Foreign policy and threat assessments dictate the level of security. It cannot be left up to individuals for individuals can make mistakes, whereas those following policy shouldn’t be able to if following it and doing their job properly.

  • IKnowIT

    Can some of you military guys clear something up for me… Why are these guys resigning (other than that they have personal ethics)? Is there some rule in the military that says they have to? I mean Clinton did the same, and he has access more than Petraeus… So what gives?

    • Dash Riprock

      A President does not know the inner workings of the CIA, it’s agents, initiatives, etc. The same goes for knowledge of the workings of the individual military services. I’ll take that you really didn’t know this and not label your posting as “dumb”.

      • Russell Romick

        You will take it that he didnt know? Hence why he asked maybe? I wouldn’t label any question like the one he posed as dumb at all. That is why he asked. If you answer him good on ya but if you think it may be dumb then don’t answer him. If you feel you have knowledge he didn’t then tell him don’t imply that his question may be “dumb”. Sheesh almost have a superiority complex.

    • tmb2

      Petraeus is retired from the Army so those laws really don’t apply to him anymore. The still apply for GEN Allen. Petraeus resigned for ethical reasons. It’s too bad those ethics didn’t prevent him from getting into trouble in the first place. It’s possible the President could have eventually asked him to resign anyways. As director of the CIA he is required to not put himself in a position where he could compromise national security. If he were to stay on the job it could give the impression its okay to be the keeper of the nation’s secrets and have loose morals.

      • Menzie

        Ah but the events that happened were when he had the job so they do since they did…lol.

  • Chris

    IKNOWIT- They serve at the pleasure of the President…..And its like Musical Chairs, there are only so many spots for General Officers bty the # of stars they have. No chair available, and you are out of the game…….

  • TrustThis.

    Sounds like right out of the old 1950″s edition of “Spy School”. Prominent perty girl with “extra” trainng?

    • Menzie

      Yes it does, which begs the question….did neither of these men see that? If not they should not have been promoted or picked for the jobs they had. But most of us men can be led around by our short hairs so what is new.

  • shotbag

    This is a low grade nonconsequial scandel of no importance that occurs everyday in congress,being sensationalized by a obama control leftist news media, to cover up his & his administration’s(h clinton) complicity, incompitent,& criminal behavior in the mega Libyan disaster.

  • ltfunk4

    Petraeus betrayed his country in two wars to further his carreer and personal image, little wonder that he betrayed his family too to ensure his hagiography said his shit smelled sweet.

  • Curious

    Maybe, I am “old school” but why do a bunch of generals need a socialite to handle social events for the military? Shouldn’t they be off fighting a war instead of playing house?

    • susan heyward

      AMEN! I have little respect for “social climbers.”sheyward39.

    • tmb2

      She did events for the Wounded Warrior Program. GEN Allen and then-GEN Petraeus were the commanders for CENTCOM which is based at Macdill AFB, FL where the events took place so they had some contact with her. Holly Petraeus has spent the last decade doing financial counseling for soldiers and currently holds a senior position with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which puts her in contact with a lot of junior soldiers and their families and by extension many social events on the base.

    • Menzie

      They were thinking with their “little head”. No surprise there, eaders have been caught in compromising postions for a few thousand years. Sex is sex.

  • ELDERLYREPTILE

    BOX SCORE (involving branches of the service):
    1. The Air Force, sex related scandals
    2. The Navy, a little of everything
    3. The Army, security and sex scandals
    4. “The Corps”, pending…jury still out
    Leave us not forget: The higher up the food-chain one climbs the more vulnerable to scandal one becomes. Computers ARE NOT YOUR FRIEND!

    • Menzie

      “2. The Navy, a little of everything”
      Umm I think “Tailhook” is more than a little of everything. It is scandal served on the good china.

    • Robert Fritts

      Great post. To think the head of our CIA thought his private email was private, thats a hoot!

  • Liam

    …the plot thickens…looks like this is gonna get REAL serious….the sh*t filter has been full for a long time! time to clean up!!

  • jrexilius

    Sorry, how the fuck is this tech related news other than it being emails? Seriously, “sex scandals” are not news.

    • Menzie

      Umm this is everything that affects the military, intelligence…which can affect procurement, industry etc. Not just star wars lasers.

  • erik

    JM shock and awe erok60@netzero.net uganda 142 12 at home.

    • Menzie

      Is this some kind of Ugandan secret police code hidden for operatives abroad?

      • blight_

        Spam advertisements, the new numbers station!

        TORY BURCH LOUIS VUITTON in a one-time pad means “dead drop at dupont circle”

  • broderick

    While we’re talking about extramarital affairs – how about Obama & Reggie Love and several other “close assistants” “body men” or whatever you want to call them. If you think rival heterosexual lovers can be vindictive, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. When homosexuals get vindictive, now that’s really interesting.

  • david

    Just another case showing that a vagina can bring down even the most powerful of men. And people say men run this country. LOL!

  • blight_

    Cryptome just pushed a list of Army Ball attendees:
    http://cryptome.org/2012/11/army-ball-2011.pdf

    First people on the list are the Allens (John & Kathy). #90 (89th on the list) is Scott and Jill Kelley, affiliated as Civic Leader, but with a Corporate Affiliation.

    Sadly, Petraeus did not attend. Perhaps he was working…

    • tmb2

      He was still in command in Afghanistan. Not sure of your point?

      • blight_

        Good point. The Army Ball was June 2011 and he left in July.

        A good time was had by all. Time to microwave more popcorn.

  • John Moore

    Who cares frig move on how about some real news?

  • Meatpopsicle

    Well I bang her

  • peter

    The reason why American men are so vulnerable to female is because prostitution is illegal in the US. If it was legal like it is in most countries men could “get it” whenever they wanted and females would have much less power to manipulate a man. But since most men in America haven’t really been men in 50+ years they let women make prostitution illegal and now they pay the price.
    We here in Eastern Europe laugh at how neutered the American male has become.

    • Menzie

      Oh I dunno, myself I would think a cute biographer who has an interest in keeping quiet would have been safer than a whore. Just sayin.

  • Femtobeam

    The backwards policy of the FBI to treat financial problems as a security risk does not make any sense. If a person were apt to be bribed, they would have money. If the bar is not being able to make payments on a multi-million commercial property, which probably lost half it’s net worth with the real estate stock market crash during the Bush administration, then everyone is a “security risk”. The reports in the media state that the compound was under CIA control. Petraeus was a Rumsfeld man. Sec. Panetta ordered an Inspector General investigation. Broadwell was in Denver talking at a conference about Benghazi. I agree with Bob Baer on CNN that there is more to it than just a “scandal”. Kelly was asking for help because she was being harassed, and the computer forensics have proven this to be true. Now, the focus is on the victims financials and her events in support of Veterans? This diversionary tactic will clearly not work this time. We can see the FBI raiding Broadwells’ house on TV.

  • So?

    There is no way they’ll use this as a plot for a porn film. No way. An alpha-male in uniform and his hawt biographer. A doctor, his horny wife and her identical twin sister. No freaking way.

  • Sean

    Defence Tech?!!!!!!!!! Really, What the heck is this. Nothing to do with defence tech thats for sure. Extramarital affairs of politicians, really? This is supposed to be a defence technical news source not a soap opera tell all scandal tabloid. I am disgusted.

    • Menzie

      Technical also refers to the process of the Military and Intelligence not just the gadgets. If you are looking for gadgets go to gizmodo.

  • William C.

    How often did crap like this occur back in the ’80s? We let everybody get away with way too much. Generals busy themselves playing politician to advance their careers as this is more valued than merit. Meanwhile the Democrats champion the DADT repeal and other “reforms” that will only open up the gates to more scandal, quotas, and similar nonsense that degrades the overall quality of our military?

    We need to start choosing our leaders based on merit again.

    • blight_

      There’s plenty of stuff on militarycorruption.com that has nothing to do with gay people.

      As for merit, it’s a pity that the leaders of today are no longer skilled at picking the next generation of talent in the ranks of their juniors: it seems to be pick-your-friends and pick-that-cool-dude from here on out…

      • William C.

        I’m not saying the two are related. But the new policy is more nonsense that isn’t needed. More fuel on the fire.

  • Taylor

    Another story I saw suggested that Petraus was blackmailed by the Obama administration to say that the Benghazi incident was a popular protest due to the movie instead of what it really was. Now that Obama is reelected, Petraus is gone.

    • blight_

      If it were true then Obama expended his leverage on Petraeus and frees him to say the truth. I can’t imagine what other leverage he would have on Petraeus.

    • Menzie

      Let me guess the information was released by the Republicans.

  • dubweiser101

    We all have to get our rocks off some time, some where. As long as it doesn’t threaten national security it’s no ones business who or what officials fuck or don’t.

  • Hunter76

    Casualties of war.

    We lost two generals in a bitch fight.

  • marc27

    she must be good in bed

  • Vitor

    So a dude with a powerful job has a lover…what is really the issue?

  • ripthesystem

    Hey, you guys are missing the point. The Generals and biographer all had excellent credit. They were the ones violating the rules. Who cares what the socialites credit score was!!!!!!!! Just goes to show you how futile a credit report is in a top secret clearance background check.

  • Armando P Diaz

    I do not hear McCain screaming fire on this one. There has to be a benefit to him otherwise he would be placing his face on the news seeking attention.