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Government wants more time to address Jill Kelley's lawsuit

Tampa socialite was entangled in Petraeus, Allen scandals

Aug. 7, 2013 - 08:59AM   |  
Jill Kelley, David Petraeus
Jill Kelley leaves her home Nov 12 in Tampa, Fla. (Chris O'Meara / AP)
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Justice’s delayed isn’t necessarily justice denied for Jill Kelley, the Tampa socialite entangled in the scandal that toppled former CIA Director and Army Gen. David Petraeus.

The Justice Department has asked for a 30-day extension, until Sept. 4, to respond to Kelley’s lawsuit against the government for violating her family’s privacy, rifling through her emails and leaking confidential information about her.

And Kelley is fine with the extension, says her lawyer, Alan Raul. The government says it needs the time to sort through the allegations in the 65-page complaint. It doesn’t help, Justice Department lawyers say, that Pentagon employees have been furloughed because of sequestration.

“We are pleased that the federal government appears to be taking this case seriously, and is taking extra time to conduct its internal inquiry in response to this lawsuit,” Raul said in a statement.

Kelley had been an unpaid social liaison to the military and had hosted parties for military officials, including Petraeus and Gen. John Allen, at her home on Tampa’s Bayshore Boulevard. The headquarters of Central Command, which oversees military action in the Middle East, is a few miles away.

Petraeus’ extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, was exposed after Kelley complained to the FBI about harassing emails she had received. Broadwell was behind them.

Allen’s name also popped up in Kelley’s emails.

That prompted then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to call for an investigation of Allen’s relationship with Kelley to determine if there had been “professional misconduct” on his part. Allen and Kelley say there was nothing inappropriate about their relationship. The Pentagon inspector general agreed, although the Defense Department refuses to release its findings. USA TODAY and other news organizations have filed multiple requests for the report but have been denied.

Allen and Kelley exchanged 3,000 emails from July 2010 to July 2012, according to Rep. Jackie Speier, the California Democrat on the Armed Services Committee. She was briefed the inspector general on the report but not shown the document. Of those emails, 41 were reviewed more thoroughly, Speier was told.

Speier wants Allen to divulge emails from his private account to Kelley. He refused to provide them to the inspector general, Speier said.

Kelley and her husband, Scott, want an apology and unspecified damages for what they say were willful leaks by federal officials of false and damaging information about them. Those officials should have been protecting them and their privacy, they say in their lawsuit.

“The Kelleys are trying to deter the government from violating the privacy rights of other Americans by calling attention to the government’s profound over-collection of private emails and egregious leaking of confidential investigative material,” Raul said.

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