Jill Kelley's license plate carries an emblem that reads “Honorary Consul.” Gen. David H. Petraeus helped her obtain that title from South Korea.
With her dark tresses, high-wattage smile and gregarious personality, Kelley was a natural hostess. She became known for holding Champagne-and-caviar parties on a manicured front lawn, complete with billowing white tents and valet parking. Civic leaders rubbed shoulders with military brass from MacDill, a base so crucial to the local economy that generals were treated like rock stars.In some cases, they acted that way too.In February 2010, Petraeus and his wife, Holly, attended their first Gasparilla Pirate Festival, a local version of Mardi Gras. He arrived at the Kelley home with a 28-motorcycle police escort and wore a long string of beads around his neck....Two years ago, Kelley strapped herself into a harness and made a tandem parachute jump with Special Operations troops, another official said. She was named an "honorary ambassador" by allied countries at Central Command and even secured a pass that allowed her to enter MacDill during daylight hours without an escort. That pass was revoked this week...At the Republican National Convention in Tampa in August, New York energy entrepreneur Adam Victor was introduced to Kelley. She was described as "a very close friend of Gen. Petraeus," who had helped Kelley become South Korea's honorary consul.Victor, who was looking to establish a major coal project in South Korea, invited Kelley to New York in mid-September. There, she again played up her Petraeus ties. Victor then flew Kelley to Hawaii to meet with a South Korean delegation to help pave the way for negotiations.But then, Victor said, Kelley asked for 2% of the gross cost of the project for her compensation. Informed that would mean a fee of about $80 million, Kelley persisted until Victor ended the relationship. An industry standard compensation would be no more than $1 million, Victor said."It was such an astronomical figure that it suggested she had no experience in negotiating these types of deals," Victor said. "Gen. Petraeus had a lapse in judgment in using his influence to put her in that position."