With Gen. David Petraeus and his former mistress and biographer Paula Broadwell in bunker mode over their illicit relationship, the press has focused much of its attention on Jill Kelley, a Tampa socialite at the center of the sordid affair.
On Monday, Kelley, whose actions led FBI investigators to uncover the Petraeus-Broadwell affair, hired Smith & Company, a crisis PR firm known for taking on high-profile clients, among them Monica Lewinsky. In fact, the firm inspired the splashy ABC drama “Scandal,” according to Advertising Age
So why would Kelley hire Smith & Company when neither Petraeus nor Broadwell are working with PR agencies (that we know of)?
that it could be for financial gain or for notoriety. However, with the press voraciously reporting on numerous aspects of Kelley’s life, she may have hired a crisis PR firm to simply help blunt the media fallout.
For instance, here are five revelations from the last several days, any one of which could be the basis for bringing in the big PR guns—not to mention plot points for a daytime soap opera:
She reportedly exchanged thousands of lurid emails with another general.
This angle of the Kelley story—that four-star Marine Gen. John Allen, the top man in Afghanistan and the nominee for NATO’s supreme allied commander, Europe—is grabbing the most attention. According to reports, Allen and Kelley exchanged numerous emails—the number is up for debate
—some of which are flirtatious and perhaps inappropriate in nature. They could cost Allen his career, as the Pentagon has delayed his NATO appointment. However, top officials have urged caution in labeling Allen’s relationship with Kelley an affair until all the facts are revealed.
She is mixed up with one weird FBI agent.
This is probably the most bizarre angle of the story. One of the FBI agents involved in the investigation was blocked from the case because he reportedly sent topless photos of himself to Kelley
. According to NBC News
, Kelley and the agent were friends and had met before the investigation began, and the agent has said the topless pictures were meant in jest. They always are, aren’t they?
She ran a cancer charity into bankruptcy.
This part of the story could inflict the most harm to Kelley and her family. According to The Huffington Post
, Kelley threw parties for military brass that were funded by a cancer charity that she and her husband established. After less than one year, the Doctor Kelley Cancer Foundation—her husband is an MD—went into bankruptcy, having exactly as much money has it took in. Some in the media have called it a “scam
She wrangled two generals to support her sister in a custody battle.
This is another weird angle of the story: Kelley and her twin sister (of course there’s a twin sister involved), persuaded Gen. Petraeus and Gen. Allen to write letters of support for her sister’s custody hearing. According to the Associated Press
, “The letters deepen the mystery of how two Tampa socialites [Kelley and her sister] developed close access to top military officials and raise questions about the specific nature of those relationships.”
She is married with children.
This could be the simplest reason Kelley hired a crisis PR firm: She’s married to a widely respected doctor, with whom she has three children. Preventing the media from trampling through her personal affairs—as they have her lawn
—for the sake of her family could be the primary motivation for working with Smith and Company. Then again, staying away from compromising situations altogether is probably the best way to avoid PR crises.