(NEW YORK) — A man who says he’s a “very close friend” of Jill Kelley, the woman at the center of the scandal that brought down CIA chief David Petraeus, told ABC News that Kelley’s portrayal in the media is inaccurate, as are any insinuations that she hoped to profit financially from her close connection to America’s spymaster.
Don Phillips, a Tampa, Fla., real estate developer, said in an interview that Kelley is “the best kind of friend” anyone would like to have, including America’s top military officials.
“Take everything you know and turn it around 180 degrees,” said Phillips, who has known Kelley and her husband for five years. “The reason these people [the Kelleys and military officials] are close is not because there [was] any untoward thing or any unseemly thing but quite to the contrary. It’s because they are trustworthy people and they’ve kept their mouths closed. They don’t go out to sensationalize these issues. They don’t talk about getting involved in scandal.”
“I don’t think Jill Kelley, in any way, has tried to profit from this relationship,” he said of Kelley’s friendship with Petraeus. “There’s no dark plot here. There is no conspiracy. There is no grand crime.”
Phillips took issue with allegations made by New York businessman Adam Victor concerning a proposed multi-billion dollar business deal with South Korea in which Kelley was allegedly involved.
Adam Victor told ABC News on Friday that Kelley had claimed it was Petraeus who arranged for her to be named honorary consul to South Korea and, as a result, she could use her connections with high-level Korean officials to help him land a large coal gasification deal in the Asian country. Victor also alleged that Kelley demanded a 2 percent commission on the deal, a fee of about $80 million.
“It became clear that it did not smell right,” Victor said. Victor said he got the feeling Kelley was inexperienced and unqualified to help him with the deal so he “terminated the relationship.”
Phillips, who introduced Victor to Kelley, confirmed that the two had discussed the Korea deal, but said Kelley was the one who ended the business relationship after Victor “propositioned” her.
“Not only did I introduce him to her but other people in the community who all had a very negative report that came back to me and I felt terrible about introducing him to them,” Phillips said. “Jill, immediately upon meeting him, said she felt very uncomfortable, that he propositioned her almost immediately… I said, ‘Jill, please, with this station, with this honor that you have forwarding the economic interest of this country, you have to look beyond that.’ And she goes, ‘I don’t want to deal with this guy.’ And I said, ‘Please, for my sake, just bear through. We all deal with a bunch of unsavory characters from time to time.'”
Phillips acknowledged that Kelley traveled to New York to meet with Victor, as Victor had claimed, but said Kelley determined the business relationship was “just not going anywhere.” Phillips said that Victor was correct in saying Kelley had no “trans-financial capability,” but that was just because she never wanted it.
“It’s because she is not interested in it. She’s extremely content. She has a great husband who does a great job earning for them and they have a pretty good life. That’s not what motivates Jill,” he said.
Victor denied that he ever propositioned Kelley and told ABC News Phillips was “rewriting history and not telling the truth.”
Retired Army Col. Steve Boylan, a friend and former spokesperson for ex-CIA Director Petraeus, told ABC News last week it was “nonsense” that Petraeus had any part in Kelley’s alleged Korean deal.
Kelley stumbled into the international spotlight earlier this month when she was identified as the woman who sparked an FBI investigation that eventually led to Petraeus’ recent resignation. Over the summer Kelley had told an FBI friend about harassing emails she had received from an anonymous sender. In the course of the FBI investigation that found Paula Broadwell, an Army Reserves intelligence officer and biographer of Petraeus, was sending the messages, the bureau also uncovered evidence that Petraeus and Broadwell were having an affair.
The FBI informed the White House of the affair a day after President Obama was reelected and a few days later, Petraeus resigned.
Phillips said he believes Kelley’s relationship with Petraeus was probably similar to his own with her — like brother and sister.
“I have a great and close relationship with her, but not for a moment has my wife ever questioned our relationship. [Jill] doesn’t leave that impression. She doesn’t give you that sense that there is any hanky-panky or foul play going on. She projects an air of a confident and friendly relationship,” he said.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Ray Sanchez, CNN Newswire
Chuck Johnston, CNN Newswire