Newly cleared Gen. Allen remains candidate to lead NATO
WASHINGTON - The White House will go ahead with nominating Marine Gen. John Allen to be top U.S. commander in Europe, following an investigation by the Pentagon inspector general that found his emails with a Florida woman were not improper.
White House spokesman Jay Carney called Wednesday for the Senate to approve Allen's nomination "in a timely manner" now that the investigation is complete. Allen is currently top commander in Afghanistan.
Allen's nomination to take over as Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, the top officer at NATO, has been in limbo since Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordered the inquiry last November into Allen's emails with Jill Kelley, a socialite in Tampa, Fla.
The Pentagon announced Tuesday that the inspector general had exonerated Allen. The White House must formally resubmit the nomination before the Senate can hold a confirmation hearing, U.S. officials said.
Maj. Dave Nevers, a spokesman for Allen, said in a statement that Allen was pleased that the inspector general found "the allegations against him were unsubstantiated" and that he did not violate "requirements of exemplary conduct or the prohibition against conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman."
Allen, who is married, has denied having an inappropriate relationship with Kelley, who is also married. She was known for inviting senior officers assigned to U.S. Central Command, which has its headquarters in Tampa, to lavish parties and for sending them frequent emails.
The FBI uncovered emails between Allen and Kelley after they began investigating her claim that she had received harassing emails that ultimately were traced to Paula Broadwell, who was writing a biography of Gen. David Petraeus.
Petraeus resigned as CIA director in November after admitting he had a sexual affair with Broadwell. The FBI forwarded the Allen-Kelley emails to the Pentagon, and several officials said at the time that some of the messages were flirtatious and "potentially inappropriate."
At Kelley's urging, Allen and Petraeus sent letters on their official stationary to a judge in Washington, D.C., who was overseeing a child custody case involving Kelley's sister. According to emails later released by city authorities in Tampa, Allen sought Kelley's help last year after U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan burned Korans and a controversial radio host in Tampa vowed to "deep-fat fry" a Koran on his show.
Allen is due to leave as top U.S. commander in Afghanistan next month. If confirmed by the Senate, he would replace Adm. James Stavridis as the top U.S. commander in Europe.