Kelly talked to his twin brother and astronaut comrade Scott Kelly in a lecture series sponsored by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Kelly is now a Democratic candidate in the 2020 US Senate race for the seat of Republican Senator Martha McSally of Arizona. Kelly has pledged to reject donations from political committees for political action and to combat the influence of big money in politics as the cornerstone of the early days of his campaign. The appearance could open Kelly for criticism of foreign influence since he ran for the Senate.
CNN's KFile, which reviewed Kelly's pay-time spokesman, first contacted Kelly's campaign last Thursday to inquire about his appearance in the US UAE. An employee of Kelly's senate campaign said he received a fee of approximately $ 55,000 from his speaker office, Keppler Speakers, who booked the show and paid Kelly through a consulting firm. The counselor said Kelly had decided to return the money to Keppler Speakers this week.
In a statement to CNN, Kelly's election spokesman Jacob Peters said, "Like many other former astronauts, Mark has given speeches to various groups about his experience in space, the United States Navy, and how he and his wife, former Arizona MP Gabby Giffords Working together to overcome the tragedy, this commitment was fully focused on Mark sharing his experience in space and discussing our countries' space programs. "
The paid circle of speakers is not uncommon in the world of politics. However, there has been some controversy over the nature of some speeches, and critics and ethicists have demanded that paid speeches influence. Hillary Clinton was criticized during the 2016 parliamentary elections by the political left during Democratic presidential nominations, and by the Republicans for paid corporate speeches and foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation.
Kelly's speech was held as part of a conference lecture series by the Crown Prince, who is also deputy commander-in-chief of the United Arab Emirates military. In this position, he has also played a leading role in the Saudi-led military coalition in Yemen, which has been accused of committing war crimes against civilians. Both Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have denied the allegations.
Kelly is not the only one who lectures. Others include former astronaut Buzz Aldrin, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Bill and Melinda Gates, the Microsoft founder and his wife, who jointly manage the world's largest private nonprofit organization.
CORRECTION: This story has been updated It is true that Scott Kelly tweeted about eating with the Crown Prince.