WASHINGTON -- The search for answers into David Petraeus' sudden departure as CIA director turned to Bayshore Boulevard Sunday, as word spread that a South Tampa woman had launched the FBI investigation that led to his resignation.
Petraeus, who led U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base from 2008 to 2010, resigned Friday over concerns about an extramarital affair with his biographer, Paula Broadwell.
The FBI uncovered the affair while investigating harassing emails Broadwell sent to 37-year-old Jill Kelley, of Tampa.
The investigation began after Kelley visited the bureau's Tampa office in early summer and provided investigators with harshly worded emails accusing her of seeking an intimate relationship with Petraeus, The Washington Post reported. FBI investigators traced the emails to Broadwell.
Kelley seemed ill-prepared for the media storm that descended on her Bayshore Boulevard home, where she and husband Scott were hosting a children's birthday party on the front lawn complete with a bounce house, full-service bar, DJ and cooks making cheese steaks, burgers and Italian sausage.
Scott Kelley called police to make sure the reporters and TV crews stayed off the property, and his wife drove away without answering questions.
The Kelleys hired Abbe Lowell, a Washington, D.C., lawyer, according to The Washington Post. And Sunday night, Jill Kelley issued a statement through Smith and Company, a communications and crisis management firm based in Washington, D.C.
"We and our family have been friends with General Petraeus and his family for over five years," she said in the statement. "We respect his and his family's privacy and want the same for us and our three children."
Staffers for Petraeus said Kelley and her husband were regular guests at events Petraeus held at Central Command headquarters, and the former general and his wife, Holly, socialized with the Kelleys, according to the Associated Press. While he was still at MacDill, Petraeus even showed up at their 2010 Gasparilla party.
But why Broadwell would have sent Jill Kelley emails – and what other connection she might have had to the events that led to Petraeus' downfall – remained unclear Sunday.
Even members of Congress seem baffled by Petraeus' sudden departure and are asking for more details about the FBI's investigation.
"We received no advanced notice. It was like a lightning bolt," said Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, who heads the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Feinstein, appearing on "Fox News Sunday," said she had not been told the precise relationship between Petraeus and Kelley.
While the extent of Kelley's role in Washington politics remains unclear, she and her husband are well-known in Tampa social circles.
Dr. Scott Kelley, 46, has been an oncology surgeon at the Watson Clinic in Lakeland since 2008 and formerly was on staff at the Moffitt Cancer Center.
The Kelleys' home, which they bought for $1.5 million in 2004, is the site of lavish, white-tablecloth parties, and the couple is active in local charities. In 2003, for example, Jill Kelley served on a fundraising committee for Tampa General's Pediatric Emergency Care Center, and the couple hosted a fundraiser at the H.B. Plant Museum in 2009.
"I think they've done a lot of things for the community," said Jim Walters, who lives two doors down and sold the Kelleys' Hyde Park home before they moved to Bayshore.
"They work very hard."
In 2003, Kelley and her twin sister competed in a food challenge for a Food Network show filmed at the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City.