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Jill Kelley to lose honorary consul license plates

Jill Kelley will need to put her old license plates on her vehicles or obtain new ones, a state spokeswoman says.

KATHLEEN FLYNN | Times

Jill Kelley will need to put her old license plates on her vehicles or obtain new ones, a state spokeswoman says.

TAMPA — Florida transportation officials have received formal notification from the State Department that socialite Jill Kelley has lost her status as an honorary consul for South Korea.

Courtney Heidelberg, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, said the department would send Kelley a letter either Thursday or today asking her to stop using three "honorary consul" license plates she has for three vehicles.

Kelley will then either have to put her old license plates on the cars, if she still has the tags, or obtain new ones, Heidelberg said. The department will allow her to keep her honorary consul license plate as a memento.

Kelley became an honorary consul in August, one of only two in Florida.

But South Korean's deputy foreign minister, Kim Kyou-hyun, told South Korean reporters during a visit to Washington this month that Kelley inappropriately used her title for personal gain.

"It's not suitable to the status of honorary consul that (she) sought to be involved in commercial projects and peddle influence," Kim said, according to Yonhap News Agency.

A New York businessman, Adam Victor, has told reporters that Kelley met with him and said she could use her contacts in South Korea to help him broker a deal to build a coal-gasification plant with a consortium of business interests in that country.

Victor said Kelley asked for an exorbitant $80 million fee, though Kelley's lawyer said that was untrue. Though the reasons are disputed, the deal collapsed.

It is not unheard of for honorary consuls to use the post to make business connections that might lead to profits.

A 1988 Miami Herald story noted that a Miami lawyer, Burt Landy, had "reaped sizable fees by representing Korean trading companies and textile manufacturers doing business in South Florida and the Caribbean."

"I don't know if it adds business that wouldn't be there anyway, but it doesn't hurt," Landy told the Herald.

Over the summer, Kelley, 37, told an FBI agent about anonymous and threatening emails she had received, which ultimately exposed an affair between biographer Paula Broadwell and then-CIA director David Petraeus.

The revelation ended the career of the retired general, who once had been leader of U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base and counted the Kelleys as friends.

Jill Kelley to lose honorary consul license plates 11/29/12 [Last modified: Thursday, November 29, 2012 9:22pm]
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