When the news broke Friday that Gen. David Petraeus was stepping down from the CIA over an affair, the old adage that "every crazy story has a tie to Florida" seemed like a stretch. What possible link could the Sunshine State have to Petraeus' unwise liaison with his biographer?
Doubt Florida's insidious reach at your own peril. Yesterday, news broke that the woman who exposed Petraeus's tryst is a well-known socialite from Tampa. This morning, the AP reports that woman -- Jill Kelley -- might just bring down a second top U.S. commander, the top general in Afghanistan. Damn, Florida.
Petraeus, who made his name as a genius tactical commander in Iraq and Afghanistan, hasn't discussed the details of the affair that compromised his job as America's spy chief, but news quickly broke after his resignation that author Paula Broadwell, who'd written his biography, was his mistress.
Then, over the weekend, word leaked that Petraeus's affair had been discovered by the FBI after someone complained of harassing emails from Broadwell about the general.
Turns out that the person complaining was none other than Kelley, a well known figure in Tampa's elite social stratus.
Kelley, who is married to a top specialist at Tampa's Moffitt Cancer Center, made a name for herself volunteering at nearby MacDill Air Force Base, home to U.S. Central Command. The Kelley's mansion, which is just a few miles from the base's gates, soon became a party hotspot for top generals and politicians.
At some point, Kelley started getting harassing emails from Broadwell, telling her to back off of Petraeus, who was friends with the couple and photographed several times at their home.
When she complained about the letters to the FBI, the agency got into Broadwell's email and discovered her affair with Petraeus.
But that may not be the end of Kelley's destructive trail through the top brass of the U.S. military.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
This morning, the AP reports that Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. general in Afghanistan, is now being investigated over tens of thousands of pages of email with Kelley.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who ordered the review after the FBI handed over Kelley's email yesterday, declined to say whether Allen and Kelley were involved in a sexual relationship or whether classified information had found its way to her email.
The lesson in all this is clear: Never, ever doubt Florida's ability to worm its way into America's most scandalous news stories.