TAMPA, Fla. — When Tampa radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge said he would “deep fat fry a Quran” in response to deadly protests against U.S. troops for the accidental burning of the Muslim holy book in Afghanistan, Jill Kelley was on it.
“I just got off the phone with Gen. Allen and Adm. Harward,” the Tampa socialite e-mailed the mayor of Tampa in March, referring to Gen. John R. Allen, commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, and Vice Adm. Robert S. Harward, deputy commander of U.S. Central Command. Kelley wrote that Allen and David H. Petraeus, then-CIA director, were “emailing me about getting this dealt with.”
Kelley now is at the center of the scandal that forced Petraeus to resign and has threatened Allen’s career. Her eagerness to help resolve the Bubba the Love Sponge problem was another reflection of how close she had grown to top U.S. military officials at MacDill Air Force Base, and how she has used those connections to gain special privileges.
The case has veered from tragedy to farce, but it grew downright bizarre Friday when the White House acknowledged that Kelley had used her connections to arrange three visits to the White House complex in the past six weeks. The most recent was a tour for her family on Nov. 4, five days before Petraeus resigned as CIA director after admitting an extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell. The affair came to light after Kelley told an FBI agent about harassing e-mails she’d received from Broadwell.