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Charlie Crist: I Never Dated Jill Kelley's Sister

TAMPA BAY -- The unfolding Washington scandal that has already cost Gen. David Petreaus his job and may well do the same to General John Allen, just enveloped our former governor Charlie Crist.

The Daily Telegraph of London has recently reported that Crist dated the identical twin sister of Jill Kelley because, in this most screwed-up of tales, why not throw one more high-level figure into the mix?

Reporters are leaving no stone unturned in this one and have followed tips from Washington to Florida to Afghanistan. (Tomorrow's headline: Pothead Living Next Door to You Once Delivered Extra-Large Pizza to Petreaus.)

But does one lead back to Crist? Asked yesterday whether he'd once dated Kelly's sister, Natalie Khawam, he had a one-word answer, "No," and declined to go into details.

He does, however, know Jill Kelley, who sparked this entire drama. The FBI says she received threatening emails from Petreaus' biographer, Paula Broadwell -- who, it's now abundantly clear, had an affair with Petreaus.

In Florida, Kelley's close relationship with Petreaus has now taken on a central role in the circus. Both she and her husband, Scott, who have spent Christmas with the Petreauses, are severely in debt and owe at least $2.2 million on a building they owned, according to one lawsuit.

Crist once had dinner with Kelley a few years back at Bern's Steak House in Tampa. Crist said Kelley had told him about the dinner, adding that -- you guessed it -- Gen. Petreaus was in town and also wanted to get dinner. Kelley's husband, Scott, was also there.

Both Kelley and her sister -- the one Crist apparently didn't date -- have been fixtures in the political social scene of Southwest Florida, glad-handing with local celebrities and top brass who come to town. Crist said he "may have met" Khawam, but there wasn't anything more to it than that.

Crist expressed sadness over the fallen general, laying it on thick. He called it a "personal tragedy."

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Terrence McCoy

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