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Petraeus socialite friend deep in debt

Financial details have emerged about the woman whose complaint led to the resignation of the CIA head.

By Karen Datko Nov 14, 2012 8:09PM

Jill Kelley leaves her home on November 13, 2012 in Tampa, Florida
© Tim Boyles/Getty Images
A personal finance lesson from the Petraeus scandal: Socialites praised for hosting lavish parties may be living far beyond their means.


Jill Kelley, whose report to an FBI friend about threatening emails launched the unfolding imbroglio, opened her Bayshore Boulevard mansion in Tampa -- purchased for $1.5 million in 2004 -- to top leaders of the U.S. Central Command for catered parties and other glitzy social events. That's how she and her husband, a cancer surgeon, became friends of then Gen. David Petraeus and his wife, and also Gen. John Allen.


To quickly sum up the ongoing scandal, from USA Today:

"Her call to an FBI agent about harassing e-mails unwittingly exposed an extramarital affair by a family friend -- Gen. David Petraeus, who subsequently resigned as head of the CIA. That investigation has now ensnared the top American commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, for 'potentially inappropriate' communications with Kelley -- e-mails described as 'flirtatious.'"

Readers of personal finance blogs know that the millionaires next door often live a quiet life, and that flashy folks often overextend themselves. So what follows should not surprise.  


The Petreus and Kelley families became friends in 2008 and that close relationship continued after the military family had moved on, the Tampa Bay Times reports:

"Lawsuits show the Kelleys were treading water by then, when Scott Kelley was making just the minimum payment on a Visa Signature card that had accumulated a balance over $70,000 and was taking on hundreds of dollars in interest each month. According to a lawsuit filed this year, Kelley defaulted on that card in 2010, the same year Regions bank sued him and his wife over a debt in excess of $250,000. Chase sued for more than $25,000 and Regions Bank filed to foreclose on their Bayshore home. The bank said it was owed more than $1.7 million, and that it had not gotten any payments since September 2009.


"They defaulted on more credit cards and the lawsuits stacked up, but they continued to host parties and held tight to their friendship with Petraeus."

It's also been widely reported that a charity -- with the Kelleys and Jill's twin sister, Natalie Khawam, named as the people in charge -- was dissolved about two years after it was set up. Says The Huffington Post:

"By the end of 2007, the charity had gone bankrupt, having conveniently spent exactly the same amount of money, $157,284, as it started with -- not a dollar more, according to its 990 financial form. Of that, $43,317 was billed as 'Meals and Entertainment,' $38,610 was assigned to 'Travel,' another $25,013 was spent on legal fees, and $8,822 went to 'Automotive Expenses.'"

Khawam, a lawyer, reportedly filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in April, showing $350,000 in assets and $3.6 million in liabilities, including an $800,000 loan from the Kelleys. She bunks at her sister's place. Both Petraeus and Allen wrote letters on her behalf in September as she continued to fight for custody of her son. Her ex-husband, Grayson Wolfe, of Washington, worked for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, according to Reuters.


Says ABC News :

"In November 2011, the D.C. Superior Court had ruled that Khawam's husband would get sole legal and primary custody of the child.

"The judge wrote that Khawam 'has exhibited an utter disregard for the child's interest" in maintaining a meaningful relationship with his father, that she 'has extreme personal deficits in the areas of honesty and integrity,' and that she has exhibited a 'willingness to say anything, even under oath, to advance her own personal interests at the expense' of her husband, the child, and others."

It's so bizarre, it sounds like something from a reality TV show. (Kelley and her sister were, in fact, featured in the Food Network's "Food Fight" back in 2003.)


More from MSN Money:

Nov 14, 2012 11:02PM
Hmm .. maybe the wealthy really can't afford to pay more taxes.  We poor folks should have a yard sale to help this rich family pay off some debt!   Where is all that personal responsibility that apparently only applies to those who need food stamps?
Nov 15, 2012 7:27AM

Just another woman with a lot of debt hoping to find someone who will bail her out of her bad spending habits.   I think in Texas they call it:  Big hat, no cattle. 



Nov 15, 2012 11:07AM
Get out of debt quick scheme is "destroy a great man" then write a book and go on tour and get paid for interviews......used to be called prostitution
Nov 15, 2012 11:57AM

This is Classic Farce: these two remind me of old Kardashians, except not as crafty (I didn't say "smart") and not as hot. You can throw in a bit of NJ Housewives as well. especially with both of them going broke.

So, what we have is a couple of wannabe's who don't care how much of their and others' money (the "charity" they milked) they spend to buy themselves into a social set. And then actually believe the press they themselves planted in the first place.

Jill does busy work for the Korean consulate in Tampa (now there's a strategic operation), and gets named an "honorary consul", which is a throwaway, and actually believes the title carries some weight. What a moron. She buys herself into the good graces of the local military brass by freebie parties, meanwhile spending herself into oblivion.

Best punchline of the day: they are now both nailed as idiots and manipulators in the eyes of the world. There is justice.

Nov 15, 2012 11:29AM
Nov 15, 2012 11:48AM
The "elite" are nothing but a bag of human crap.
Nov 15, 2012 11:26AM
I'm sure the twin is ready to spread her legs for the first chump with money to 'bail her out'...I would just bang then bag her.
The lifestyles of the rich and famous ain't like the rest of us.  These folks know all the tricks, except one - they don't know how to manufacture money.  That's the one thing they've got to figure out.
Nov 15, 2012 12:20PM
How do you make a hormone? Don't pay her.
Nov 15, 2012 1:04PM
These people run their lives like the politicians run our government, no wonder they all such good friends.
Nov 15, 2012 12:21PM
What a whack job! I suppose they will make the talk show circuit in order to pay off their debt if they do not file for bankruptcy. 
Nov 15, 2012 12:32PM
Hence the age old saying that power corrupts...
Nov 15, 2012 1:21PM
She new exactly what she was doing, let's see how can I get a quick "buck" oh yea can you spell "MOVIE DEAL",  this will be the quickest movie deal ever.
Nov 15, 2012 2:48PM
Please quit calling women like this socialite's.  Call them what they are.  "Hookers for hire" looking for someone else to finance their overblown, foolish, lifestyles. 
Nov 15, 2012 1:29PM
She can always become an escort to raise cash
Nov 15, 2012 12:34PM
Good for her! She spends money like my 3 ex-wives. I'm moving to Tampa!!
Nov 15, 2012 12:19PM
Americans needs to lighten up. Why would anyone get rid of the best qualified person on a job simply because he/she had an affair? Shouldn't that be between the person and their significant other? I guess the people would rather have a person with moral values, instead of the the most qualified, to manage one of the most important organizations in the country. Where is the logic in that? I am beginning to wonder if the American people will ever grow beyond pettiness.
Nov 15, 2012 2:48PM
Lets see here, we have women of Middle Eastern decent, socializing with top Generals in charge of  Mid East Defense.  Does anyone smell rotten eggs in this whole thing??
Nov 15, 2012 12:17PM
" hosting lavish parties may be living far beyond their means."

Somehow this all sounds just like Obama.
Nov 15, 2012 5:21PM

Her and her sister are media and attention whores. The only way they can make money now is to sell interviews and their stories to the media. What is the over/under on how long it will be before there is a TV movie? How much is 20/20, Dateline and 60 Minutes willing to pay them for an exclusive interview? Are Ophra or Barbara Walters outbidding each other for an interview?


They want their 15 minutes of fame and the clock is ticking.

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