Correction appended Nov. 8.
One year ago Saturday, Gen. David Petraeus resigned as head of the CIA in the wake of revelations that he had carried on an extramarital affair with his biographer Paula Broadwell. The scandal only got weirder with each new detail. Broadwell, who is also married but was anxious that Petraeus’ eye was wandering to Tampa socialite, Jill Kelley, sent Kelley a series of anonymous, threatening emails. With the help of a dogged (some say obsessed) FBI agent, Kelley got the Bureau on the case, which eventually grew so large it turned to Kelley herself, and to an email exchange — characterized as “flirty” to the AP by a government official — she had with Gen. John Allen. Petraeus’ and Broadwell’s use of draft emails in a private Gmail account led to more than a few chuckles that even the nation’s top spy couldn’t keep his email private.
“After being married for over 37 years, I showed extremely poor judgment by engaging in an extramarital affair,” Petraeus said in his statement when he resigned. “Such behavior is unacceptable, both as a husband and as the leader of an organization such as ours.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald once said there are no second acts in American life – but that’s not really true anymore. American public life is full of stories of redemption and reinvention, and the Petraeus scandal is no different. A year later, the key players are moving on — or trying to, at least. To paraphrase another dead writer, the past, after all, is prologue.
One year later, here’s where the main players are now.
The star of the scandal quickly found a home in academia. In the past year he has taken up teaching positions at USC, The City University of New York, and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He’s also keeping busy with various professional advisory roles, including a position as chairman of the investment firm KKR’s Global Institute. And a year after he resigned, he found himself back in the news with questions about why he reportedly advised downgrading an Army captain’s Medal of Honor nomination.
The scandal’s leading lady spent time in seclusion in Washington, D.C., in the weeks immediately after the news broke, before reconciling with her family and returning home to Charlotte, N.C. In the past year she has tiptoed back into public life in Charlotte, volunteering with veterans groups (and writing about it for Politico and the Daily Beast) while giving the occasional speech or interview with local media. She even made a little foray into local politics, donating $100 to Charlotte’s Republican mayoral candidate Edwin Peacock (he lost). “I’m not focused on the past,” Broadwell said in August. “It was a devastating thing for our family and we still have some healing to do, but we’ve very focused now on how we can continue to contribute and use this for the greater good, too.”
Kelley, the Tampa socialite who notified the FBI after receiving threatening emails from Broadwell, has become something of an Internet privacy activist in the wake of the scandal. In June, she sued the FBI and the Pentagon for what she alleges were repeated violations of her privacy and disregard for her status as a victim of cyberstalking. She penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday linking her experience to recent revelations about the National Security Agency’s sweeping surveillance programs. “I hope that my family’s story is a case study about the damage that can be caused by the government’s electronic overreach,” she wrote.
The four-star Marine Corps General, who received strange anonymous emails from Broadwell advising him to steer clear of Kelley, retired from military life after fallout from the scandal delayed his prospects of becoming Supreme Allied Commander of NATO. He cited his wife’s health at the time of his resignation. In June, Allen became a Distinguished Fellow at the Brookings Institution and has become a vocal critic of the President Barack Obama’s decision to withdraw American troops from Iraq.
A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the person with whom Petraeus shared draft emails in a private Gmail account. It was Paula Broadwell. The article also incorrectly characterized the sender of emails that a government official had described to the AP as flirtatious. The emails were said to be an exchange between Allen and Kelley.