TAMPA - Tampa socialite Jill Kelley will not be among the officials and dignitaries attending the Change of Command ceremony at MacDill Air Force Base Friday morning, but she says it’s not because she wasn’t invited.
Kelley, a fixture in the military community, ended up at the center of a media storm after her tip to the FBI blew the lid of off an affair former Gen. David Patraeus was having with his biographer, Paula Broadwell.
She lost her VIP privileges at the military base, and is required to have an escort whenever she visits.
Today, the current CentCom commander Marine General James N. Mattis will turn over command to Army General Lloyd J. Austin III, the last U.S. commander in Iraq.
In a statement that was not released until half an hour before the 10:00 a.m. event, Jill Kelley announced that she was asked to come to the momentous occasion, but she decided to decline the offer.
" We are extremely humbled by General Mattis' gracious invitation to attend his ceremony in honor of his exemplary years of service to our nation. Today's Change of Command will be a well deserved tribute to General Mattis' legacy, and a reflection of his incredible character and integrity…However, with the multiple press inquiries about my attendance, I do not want to distract from this special day honoring the service of America’s best and bravest. Therefore, it is with enormous regret that I will not be attending today’s ceremony,” it read.
Kelley previously chastised the media for invading her privacy during the height of the sex scandal coverage. However, she reportedly began shopping around a “tell all” book to publishers in December. ( http://wfts.tv/VNWXYt )
Gen. Austin will oversee the drawdown of American troops currently in Afghanistan. The U.S. is scheduled to end its combat mission by the end of 2014.
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A mother and daughter were rescued from a house fire in the Citrus Park area of Tampa on Saturday afternoon.