The Washington lawyer representing the Tampa socialite involved in the sex scandal that prompted David Petraeus’s resignation as CIA director threatened to take legal action against the U.S. attorney in Tampa if he or other federal officials leak information about his client.
In a letter to U.S. Attorney Stephen Muldrow, lawyer Abbe Lowell accused federal officials of leaking Jill Kelley’s name to the media along with information about the Tampa FBI agent who went outside the bureau to alert a Republican congressman about the FBI investigation that led to Petraeus’s resignation.
“These leaks most certainly had to come, at least in part, from government sources,” Lowell wrote in a letter provided to The Washington Post. “I write to ask whether the Department of Justice is investigating these leaks and potential infringements upon the Kelleys’ privacy . . . as part of its current work.”
Kelley’s complaint to the FBI agent last summer about harassing e-mails she was receiving launched the investigation that eventually linked the messages to author Paula Broadwell and uncovered the extramarital affair between Broadwell and Petraeus, a retired four-star general.
In the course of the investigation, the FBI uncovered e-mails between Kelley and Gen. John R. Allen, the commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan. A senior U.S. defense official has said that those e-mails contained “potentially inappropriate” communications between Allen and Kelley.
Kelley met both Petraeus and Allen when they served at the U.S. Central Command in Tampa. She and her husband hosted many parties for the generals and other military officers and their families at their bay-front mansion.
A person close to Kelley said Tuesday that she is a prolific e-mailer and that she exchanged perhaps 1,000 e-mails with Allen. The person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because Allen is under investigation by the Defense Department, said that some exchanges were “taken out of context, could be read to be flirtatious” but that the characterization of them as “ ‘phone sex,’ is not true.” The person also said that Kelley did not have an affair with Petraeus or Allen.
In addition to causing Petraeus’s resignation, the FBI investigation led to evidence that Broadwell had obtained classified information. FBI officials said Tuesday that they are continuing to investigate how and where Broadwell obtained material later found on her computer and during a search of her Charlotte home.
Allen replaced Petraeus as commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan in 2011 when Petraeus became CIA director. Allen has been selected by the White House to become supreme allied commander in Europe, but the nomination was put on hold after the FBI handed over e-mails between the general and Kelley to the Defense Department. Allen’s military attorney says he is cooperating with an inquiry by the department’s inspector general.
Along with threatening legal action against the top federal prosecutor in Tampa, Lowell wrote a letter to the disciplinary office of the Florida Bar Association to complain about the conduct of Barry Cohen, who represented Kelley and her husband, Scott, in various financial matters in 2009 and 2010.
Lowell said that Cohen violated attorney-client privilege by holding a news conference two weeks ago and discussing the Kelleys with the media. “His conduct is not in keeping with the obligation an attorney has to current and former clients,” Lowell wrote.
Cohen did not respond to a message left at his law office Tuesday evening.