Tampa socialite Jill Kelley was awarded Joint Chiefs’ No. 2 medal for civilians prior to Petraeus scandal

Gregg Re Editor
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Tampa socialite Jill Kelley, the unpaid social liaison to MacDill Air Force Base whose harassment complaint eventually led to the resignation of CIA Director David Petraeus, last year received the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s second-highest civilian honor.

Petraeus himself presented the Joint Chiefs of Staff Award for Outstanding Public Service to Kelley in March 2011, after personally recommending her for the honor, and it was approved by then-Adm. Mike Mullen, according to The Tampa Tribune.

The award citation praised Kelley for her “outstanding public service to the United States Central Command, the MacDill Air Force Base community and the Department of Defense from October 31, 2008 to May 31, 2010.”

“Mrs. Kelley distinguished herself by exceptional service while supporting the mission of the United Central Command, building positive relationships between the military and the Tampa community, supporting community outreach, and advancing various military endeavors,” the award citation continued. “[Her] willingness to host engagements with Senior National Representatives from more than 60 countries was indicative of her support for both the Coalition’s effort and the mission of United States Central Command.”

But the “positive relationships” Kelley helped build turned out to be less than helpful for several top U.S. military commanders.

More than a year after she received the award, Kelley contacted the FBI to report anonymous harassing emails that turned out to be sent by Paula Broadwell, Petraeus’ biographer and ex-lover.

After the FBI probe publicly uncovered Petraeus’ infidelity and led to his resignation from the top job at the CIA, senior officials said the FBI had also revealed thousands of potentially inappropriate emails from top Afghanistan commander Gen. John Allen to Kelley.

Allen has stayed on the job despite the emails, which a source has described as “embarrassing.” (RELATED — This just in: Gen. Allen’s daughter is hot)

“On multiple occasions, Mrs. Kelley invited Senior National Representatives, their spouses, and senior leaders to her home to demonstrate their gratitude and support,” the award read. “These events promoted camaraderie, understanding and a better appreciation for Coalition and military customs, concerns and abilities. Her personal leadership and selfless contributions to our community generated a strong bond between our Coalition members and Tampa residents, which inspired acts of generosity and patriotism in others.”

The award even praised Kelley for her assistance to Petraeus, who was serving as the head of CENTCOM when he recommended Kelley for the honor. (RELATED: ‘Pussy’ Gen. Allen, Petraeus asked for Kelley’s help after shock jock threatens to deep fry Koran)

“She has also been instrumental in introducing the Commander, early in his tenure, to local and state officials, particularly the Mayor of Tampa and the Governor of Florida, fostering a relationship that brought the military and the citizens of Florida closer together and with a more thorough understanding of the contributions by the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines of the Central Command and MacDill Air Force Base,” the award stated.

“The singularly distinctive accomplishments of Mrs. Jill Kelley are in keeping with the finest traditions of public service and reflect great credit upon herself, United States Central Command and the Department of Defense.”

Kelley was even a guest at the White House on three occasions — a fact she made sure to emphasize in her conversations with local Tampa reporters. (RELATED: Socialite didn’t speak to Obama during White House visits)

But all of the military’s effusive praise may have gone to Kelley’s head: The socialite has not been bashful about exaggerating her status with the military. While she was named an honorary military ambassador and an honorary consulate general to South Korea, neither position afforded her any actual authority.

Nevertheless, as press descended on her home in early November, Kelley called 911 and claimed “inviolability” and invoked “diplomatic protection” in an apparent attempt to convince local police to help scare the media away.

Kelley also requested an $80 million commission as a lobbyist on a billion-dollar energy business deal in South Korea, citing her military connections and influence. According to reports, the deal fell through after the president of the New-York-based energy company assumed Kelley was crazy.

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