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South Korea to sever 'honorary consul' for Tampa socialite Jill Kelley

TAMPA — The "honorary consul" post that socialite Jill Kelley tried to parlay into South Korea business to her benefit will be yanked, that country's national news agency reported Monday.

Kelley, who threw parties at her Bayshore Boulevard mansion for U.S. and coalition military brass stationed at MacDill Air Force Base, was awarded the title by South Korea in August.

South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Kyou-hyun, in Washington, D.C., for regular consultations with U.S. officials, cited Kelley's efforts to use 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 Monday, according to the Yonhap News Agency.

The South Korean Embassy in Washington did not return calls Monday from the Tampa Bay Times, nor did Kelley's publicist.

Over the summer, Kelley, 37, had told an FBI agent about anonymous and threatening emails she received, which ultimately exposed an extramarital 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 Central Command at MacDill. South Korea is one of more than 50 nations represented at MacDill.

The South Korean official who made it possible for Kelley to be appointed was Han Duk-soo, head of the Korea International Trade Association and South Korean ambassador to the United States until February, the Associated Press reported.

He had asked the South Korean consulate office in Atlanta to consider appointing Kelley, citing her active role in organizing public events promoting a free-trade agreement between Seoul and Washington and in arranging meetings between the ambassador and politicians and businessmen in Tampa, according to the Associated Press, citing an unnamed source.

In August, the same month Kelley received the title, the Republican National Convention in Tampa served as the backdrop to a meeting that showed how she used military connections to open doors overseas.

Kelley met with the president of TransGas Development, describing herself as a close friend of Petraeus and saying she might help the company with a coal gasification project in South Korea. The company president, Adam Victor, told the Times that Kelley promised access to the highest levels of South Korean government. But Victor said he later realized she was an amateur when she mentioned her fee in the deal — $80 million.

In September, Kelley contacted the University of South Florida, offering to help set up a "medical, pharmaceutical or research exchange" between its medical school and South Korea. USF officials said nothing came of it.

And in a recent call to police, Kelley invoked the title again when complaining about reporters and gawkers near her home. "I am an honorary consul general, so I have involability," she said.

South Korea to sever 'honorary consul' for Tampa socialite Jill Kelley 11/26/12 [Last modified: Monday, November 26, 2012 11:04pm]
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