Jill Kelley (born June 3, 1975) is a philanthropist, an American socialite, a former South Korean Honorary Consul and the first honorary Ambassador to General James Mattis at United States Central Command, whose reporting of threatening e-mails that she and other top U.S. Generals received by a cyberstalker, Paula Broadwell, led to the David Petraeus scandal. She has since then become a privacy rights advocate and activist for internet security in her memoir "Collateral Damage: Petraeus, Power, Politics and the Abuse of Privacy" telling her story to "bring awareness to the damages that can be caused by government overreach and unwarranted searches of emails so that history will not repeat itself, and this never happens to another innocent family again."
In 2012, Kelley, a Florida socialite with connections to diplomatic and military circles, issued a complaint to the FBI in May 2012 over a series of anonymous stalking e-mails she had received. The threatening emails were traced to Paula Broadwell, the biographer who had an affair with General David Petraeus. Kelley became a focus of media coverage when her name was leaked (as the victim) of the FBI investigation. On June 3, 2013, Kelley filed a privacy lawsuit against the federal government alleging government officials violated her privacy rights by maliciously leaking her name and unlawfully searching her personal email communications with untrue descriptions to the media. In November 2013, Kelley described herself as the "human face" of the damage that can be caused by abusive government probing into personal emails and communications of law-abiding citizens. In 2014, she received the support of two U.S. Congressmen to advocate for stronger privacy rights using her story to "bring awareness to the damages that can be caused by government overreach and unwarranted searches of emails so that history will not repeat itself, and this never happens to another innocent family again." On September 23, 2016 Kelley was asked by Yale University to give a speech about Privacy rights and Internet security, tying in her personal story to advocate for reforms and stronger protections to our electronic communications. The New York Times alluded to her as "An Apostle for Privacy".
In 2017, it was reported that the story about Jill Kelley's life will be produced into a major Hollywood film.
Kelley was born in Beirut, Lebanon on June 3, 1975. Her family includes her identical twin sister, attorney Natalie Khawam; a brother, attorney David Khawam; and sister, Caroline. Jill's parents are Lebanese Maronite Catholics who immigrated to the United States from Jounieh, Lebanon in the mid-1970s. Kelley lived in the Philadelphia area until her mid-20s, where she was nicknamed Gigi. After receiving an undergraduate degree, she conducted medical research at the University of Pennsylvania and took medical courses at Hahnemann University Hospital.
In 1999, Kelley married cancer surgeon Dr. Scott Kelley whom she met when she was publishing medical research at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Kelley completed his undergraduate degree at Dartmouth College, attended Columbia University Medical School, and completed surgical residency at the University of Pennsylvania. Following their marriage, Jill Kelley discontinued her medical studies to move to Tampa with Dr. Kelley, and they subsequently had three children.
As the Honorary Ambassador to United States Central Command's Coalition Forces, Kelley is known to be someone with 'connective tissue' to the diplomatic world. Diplomats used Kelley's connections with Central Command senior generals to secure briefings for visiting foreign dignitaries. Kelley was a regular on the DC diplomatic circuit and frequently attended embassy events. She was known to be the go-between for Lebanese and other Middle Eastern government officials. She was active with dignitaries from the region and invited to functions at various embassies in Washington.
In March 2011, she received the Joint Chiefs of Staff Award for public service for "building positive relationships between the military and the Tampa community".
In May 2012, Kelley complained to an FBI investigator of harassing e-mails sent by an anonymous person. In her communication with the FBI, Kelley stated that the e-mails appeared to be an attempt to blackmail General Petraeus. After the threats increased, and included her family's whereabouts, Kelley filed an official report with the FBI in June 2012. The stalker was reported to be Paula Broadwell, mistress of David Petraeus. During the course of the criminal investigation, government officials disclosed Kelley's name as the victim to the Washington Post, along with the evidentiary emails she provided to the FBI. It was followed by revelations that FBI agents searched "years" of Kelley's personal e-mails not pertinent or relevant to the case, which was followed by false descriptions of her personal emails by a series of hints to the press about emails between U.S.’s top commander in Afghanistan, General John R. Allen. The accusations sparked an investigation by the Department of Defense, in which the Inspector General's report concluded the government leaks and accusations were baseless and the email content was not improper. Nonetheless the false accusations stated by government officials, made Kelley a near-daily feature of the media, creating a sideshow at her family's expense. November 6th, 2013 Kelley penned an Op-Ed in the Wall Street Journal warning against government surveillance by describing herself as the "human face" of the damage that can be caused by government probing into Americans' personal communications. Since her story, she became an advocate for privacy rights to "prevent her unwarranted tragedy from ever happening to another innocent family."
On June 3, 2013, Kelley filed a privacy lawsuit against the federal government alleging that investigators violated her privacy rights by unlawfully searching her personal emails and disclosing false descriptions of the nature of her emails to the media. In addition, she stated "false and untrue headlines, created a media sideshow" at her expense, including being wrongly implicated in an extramarital affair between Petraeus and Broadwell. In November 2013, Kelley described herself as the "human face" of the damage that can be caused by government probing into communications of law-abiding citizens. As a result of this incident, Kelley has become an advocate for internet privacy and security. According to a lawsuit Kelley and her husband filed against the FBI, Department of Defense and other governmental agencies on June 3, 2013, "[b]y disclosing the contents of the Kelleys' emails, by either directly sharing contents of the emails or making statements suggesting that the content of the emails was lurid, government officials served Mrs. Kelley up on a platter to be devoured in a frenzy of salacious speculation regarding the nature of her relationship with Director Petraeus."
Kelley and her husband have been active socialites in the Tampa area, appearing in local news items and making television appearances. Kelley became a volunteer social liaison to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa. Kelley and her husband were known for hosting cigar and caviar parties for military leaders at their home near the United States Central Command.
In July 2013, she was sought out by an Afghan Parliament member to create a dialogue between his government and the U.S. around the possibility of the withdrawal of U.S. troops after 2014. In response to the request Kelley said, "I am honored to resume my focus to promote cross-cultural dialogue and global trust for a peaceful and strategic exit to help our U.S. and Coalition forces transition out of Afghanistan".
Kelley is a former Honorary Consul for the Republic of Korea, a title she was given for her connections between high ranking US commanders and South Korean companies and government. Kelley has stated that she was inappropriately removed from the post because she was a figure in the Petraeus scandal.