Jill Kelley, the Florida socialite who exposed the affair which brought down CIA Director David Petraeus, has been sacked as an honorary consul for South Korea.
Jill Kelley, 37, was so proud of her status, which she was awarded thanks to her friendship with the country’s ambassador, that she had a custom licence plate made boasting of it.
But now the title has been taken away from her after a senior Korean official said she had tried to “peddle influence” in a way that was “inappropriate”.
Jill Kelley, a Tampa housewife who works as an “unpaid social liaison” at MacDill Air Force Base, unwittingly sparked the Petraeus scandal telling the FBI about “threatening” emails she had received from author Paula Broadwell.
A subsequent investigation revealed that Paula Broadwell had been having an affair with David Petraeus, who was subsequently forced to resign as director of the CIA.
Jill Kelley was appointed honorary consul for South Korea in August after becoming close to former ambassador Han Duk-Soo, who is said to be troubled by his unwitting role in the Petraeus affair.
When he recommended her for the post, he apparently alluded to her links with senior officials such as David Petraeus and General John Allen, who was dragged into the scandal when it emerged that he and Jill Kelley had exchanged thousands of emails.
As well as sporting a licence plate describing her as “Honorary Consul”, Jill Kelley requested “diplomatic protection” from media camped outside her door in the wake of David Petraeus’ resignation.
So she will doubtless be devastated to learn than the title has been withdrawn, according to the country’s deputy foreign minister Kim Kyou-hyun.
During a visit to Washington, he told the Yonhap news agency that Jill Kelley would no longer be allowed to hold the $2,500-a-year job.
“It’s not suitable to the status of honorary consul that [she] sought to be involved in commercial projects and peddle influence,” Kim Kyou-hyun said.
“It’s also inappropriate as honorary consul.”
A New York businessman said Jill Kelley was introduced to him at the Republican National Convention in Tampa in August as someone whose friendship with David Petraeus would help facilitate a no-bid deal with South Korea on a coal-gasification project.
Jill Kelley would supposedly be in a position to help broker the billion-dollar deal directly with the Korean president, and expected a two percent commission, said Adam Victor, president and CEO of TransGas Development Systems.
She also tried to establish a relationship between South Korea and the University of South Florida’s medical school.
It had previously emerged that Jill Kelley was awarded a medal for “Outstanding Public Service” – the second highest honor available to a civilian – from the Joint Chiefs of Staff after she was recommended by David Petraeus himself.
After problems with the application, it was resubmitted in October 2010 by Marine General James Mattis, who had replaced David Petraeus as the head of U.S. Central Command.
David Petraeus then presented the award to Jill Kelley, whom he met through her work and lavish party planning for MacDill, at a ceremony in Washington on March 18, 2011.
The award citation noted the honor was for her public service to the U.S. Central Command, MacDill and the Department of Defense from October 31, 2008 to May 31, 2010. She received a silver medal, lapel pin, citation and certificate.
“Mrs. Kelley distinguished herself by exceptional service while supporting the mission of the United Central Command, building positive relationships between the military and the Tampa community, supporting community outreach, and advancing various military endeavors,” according to the award citation, seen by the Tampa Tribune.
It adds that her “willingness to host engagements with Senior National Representatives from more than 60 countries was indicative of her support for both the Coalition’s effort and the mission of United States Central Command”.
And her willingness to rub shoulders with the military’s top brass has become increasingly apparent since her part in the Petraeus scandal emerged over the past two weeks.
Jill Kelley has thrown expensive parties at her home for generals and local politicians, reportedly schmoozed with Barack Obama aides who then invited her to dinners at the White House and enjoyed taxpayer-funded flights on military aircraft.
“On multiple occasions, Mrs. Kelley invited Senior National Representatives, their spouses, and senior leaders to her home to demonstrate their gratitude and support,” the citation noted.
“These events promoted camaraderie, understanding and a better appreciation for Coalition and military customs, concerns and abilities.
“Her personal leadership and selfless contributions to our community generated a strong bond between our Coalition members and Tampa residents, which inspired acts of generosity and patriotism in others.”
Jill Kelley was also commended for helping David Petraeus when he first took over CentCom.
“She [was] instrumental in introducing the commander, early in his tenure, to local and state officials, particularly the mayor of Tampa and the governor of Florida,” according to the citation.
But her friendliness with military officials has also led to her undoing, after she was found to have exchanged “flirtatious” emails with General John Allen during the FBI probe into David Petraeus.
During the investigation, the FBI found 20,000 to 30,000 pages of emails between Jill Kelley and the general, who is head of U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
It also emerged this week that she travelled on a military plane with General John Allen on at least one occasion. In other instances, she reportedly flew to Washington DC.
The investigation by 10 News Tampa found she enjoyed “numerous” flights, including on a KC-135 jet in May 2010.
“It’s an educational opportunity for people to just see what hard working military members are doing each day,” Lt. Col. Jack Miller said of the plane.
“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.”
The revelation came after 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.
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 after the scandal broke, 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 emails are the second instance of her trying to exploit her “position” – after she called the police asking for “diplomatic protection” from the media due to her role as honorary consul to South Korea.
“I’m an honorary consul general, so I have inviolability, so they should not be able to cross my property,” Jill Kelley told the 911 operator.
“I don’t know if you want to get diplomatic protection involved as well, because that’s against the law to cross my property because, you know, it’s inviolable.”