WASHINGTON - A few months after Jill Kelley's first complaint to the FBI set in motion a scandal that would take down a pair of top U.S. military and intelligence officers, Kelley's identical twin sister, Natalie Khawam, founded a corporation in Florida called Fullproof LLC with three business partners. Incorporation documents filed with the state reveal little about the company's purpose, but Christopher T. Marks, a Tampa-based lawyer and one of the co-founders of FullProof, told the Tampa Bay Times that the company aimed to "protect intellectual property while they pursued a patent."
This patent work involves a well-established physicist at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, Dr. Clifford Krowne, who is listed as a managing member of FullProof LLC's four-person team.
Krowne is a highly regarded expert in military electromagnetic technology, one of the military's most controversial and secretive research programs. His esteemed research background seems at odds with the tawdry details of the Petraeus sex scandal.
Reached by phone Monday, Krowne told The Huffington Post that FullProof's work concerned science, but said he couldn't comment on the work "because it's a private business." Still, Krowne insisted that whatever was going on with FullProof did not concern him or his work.
"I have nothing to do with it," Krowne said, adding that he did not know why his name was listed on the FullProof incorporation documents filed with Florida's Division of Corporations in mid-August. "I'm not doing anything ... I can't talk to you about it," he said.
Krowne then warned: "News people pursuing stories that is of no relevance to anyone should be very careful."
But a dose of caution might do Krowne some good, too.
The revelation that Krowne, a high-level military scientist, is involved in a "patent pursuing" business with Khawam follows a Huffington Post report last week detailing Khawam's professional and personal relationship with defense lobbyist Gerald Harrington. At the time, Khawam was living in Tampa with her sister and enjoyed regular social contact with senior members of the military stationed at MacDill Air Force Base -- relationships that might have benefited her lobbyist boyfriend. According to Khawam's bankruptcy records, Harrington loaned her $300,000 during their relationship, which she did not pay back.
Khawam's identical twin sister, Jill Kelley, also reportedly sought to trade on her social relationships with members of the military -- in her case General David Petraeus -- for a deal involving a South Korean coal project. Kelley was apparently booted from the deal after she demanded an $80 million fee. Her attorney, Abbe Lowell, did not respond to a request for comment.
As a scientist and an inventor, Clifford Krowne is far and away the most likely of the four partners in FullProof LLC to produce the kind of intellectual property that would merit a patent, despite his insistence that he is not involved in the company.
Over the past two decades, Krowne has invented four patented electromagnetic devices for use in his research.
No one else listed in FullProof's limited government records has Krowne's experience with patents.
Attorney Christopher T. Marks, who often goes by Todd, advertises his qualification to perform an extremely broad range of legal services, including real estate disputes, employment law, bankruptcies, and divorce. Neither patent work nor intellectual property are listed among his many subject areas. A receptionist at Marks' office said he was out of the country and would not be available for comment. He did not respond to a subsequent email request.
In Khawam's case, a long trail of professional disputes, debts and lawsuits -- culminating in an April 2012 bankruptcy where Khawam listed $3.6 million in personal debt -- makes it unlikely she will be in a position to file for a patent in the near future.
The fourth partner, Clifford Krowne's daughter Elizabeth Krowne, 29, has so far earned two professional licenses to practice cosmetology in the state of Virginia, according to public records, and is currently a business partner in a New York City fashion company. Khawam and Elizabeth Krowne have a history. Krowne is listed as one of her creditors, bankruptcy records show, having lent Khawam $250,000. Like other large personal loans in Khawam's court filing, it's unclear how the $250,000 was spent.
By Sunday afternoon, media attention had begun to wear on Elizabeth Krowne, who who complained on Twitter that it's "not fun being stalked by the media #getalife."
Among family members, Krowne is seen as something of a do-gooder. She was instrumental in getting her fashion company to every year donate the proceeds of a dress to the Knock Foundation, a nonprofit that works on sustainability, health, and education projects in the developing world. Her cousin, Kim Krowne, is a founder and managing partner of the foundation. Her uncle, Barry Krowne, Clifford Krowne's brother, is also a founder and helps run the foundation.
Reached by phone, Barry Krowne told The Huffington Post the did not know anything about FullProof. He said his brother is a "great guy, a very bright guy" and added that what he does is "really such sophisticated science. It's cutting edge science."
"I tried to read one of his papers," Barry Krowne said of his brother's work. "I started to laugh ... I could spend the rest of my life trying to understand that and I still wouldn't get there."
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly identified the founder of the Knock foundation as Lisa Krowne. It was in fact Kim Krowne.