Privileges of Local Honorary Consul Explained

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    Defense Secretary Leon Panetta now wants the Pentagon to investigate ethical lapses by high-ranking military officers, including former general David Petraeus.

    And there's about how one woman involved in the Petraeus scandal tried to use a honorary title, to put a lid on some bad publicity.

    Privileges of Honorary Consul Explained

    [DGO] Privileges of Honorary Consul Explained
    NBC 7's Mari Payton explains how one woman involved in the Petraeus scandal, tried to use a honorary title, to put a lid on some bad publicity. (Published Friday, Nov. 16, 2012)

    Jill Kelley has also shined a light on the job done by “honorary consuls”, who represent foreign countries in the U.S.

    There are more than twenty such honorary consuls in San Diego County, and one of them told NBC San Diego that it’s a volunteer job that requires sacrifice and commitment.

    But in Tampa Bay, Honorary Consul Jill Kelley got some unwanted publicity from her role in the David Petraeus-Paula Broadwell sex scandal.

    Pursued by the media, Kelley called "9-1-1", telling the operator, “"I am an honorary consul general, so I have inviolability. So I should, they [the photographers and reporters] should, not be able to cross my property. I don't know if you want to get diplomatic protection involved as well."

    Kelley's Mercedes also has special "honorary consul" license plates that publicize her supposed relationship with the South Korean government.

    But in San Diego, those plates are hardly a sign of privilege.

    "We do a lot of emergency passports," says Erik Nowacki, honorary consul for Sweden, in San Diego.
    Nowacki also helps Swedish tourists who have problems with their passport, or who wind up in a local jail, or are detained by immigration officials.

    "We go and we visit with them,” Nowacki told NBC San Diego, “to make sure they're being treated well."

    Nowacki and San Diego’s other honorary consuls, who represent countries from Bahrain to New Zealand, and Belgium to Madagascar, also help foreign companies build ties in San Diego.

    "I have access to the Mayor's chief of protocol,” Nowacki said. “So I could call him and ask him to set up a meeting with the Mayor."

    Honorary consuls in San Diego and other U.S. cities do have special diplomatic license plates. But in San Diego, those plates only allow consuls to park in a few special spaces downtown, while on business.

    The honorary consul plates don't even allow free parking at meters, or in green, yellow or white zones.
    As for other diplomatic privileges, like getting help from police to chase a pack of reporters off your front lawn –Nowacki, told us, “No, I couldn't… I couldn't do that."

    Kelley may pay another price for her involvement in the Petraeus-Broadwell scandal.

    According to The Guardian UK newspaper, the South Korean foreign ministry is considering revoking Kelley’s honorary consul status.

    The Guardian UK says a South Korean official in Washington confirmed that Kelley has been an honorary consul since August, and that a decision on whether to revoke her position rests with the South Korean foreign ministry in Seoul.

    Asked if it was likely that her status would be revoked, the official hinted to The Guardian that it could be removed, saying that the post was linked to a person's "reputation.”