Arizona Democratic Senate candidate Mark Kelly made over $1.8 million in speaking engagements in the last 18 months, earning on average $29,000 for speeches given to large corporations.
Kelly, a former NASA astronaut and husband to former Rep. Gabby Giffords, speaks regularly for large corporations and has made several hundred thousand dollars from such engagements since announcing his candidacy in February. At the same time, however, Kelly has sworn off donations from large corporate PACs.
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“Mark isn’t taking a dime from corporate PACs because he believes they are corrupting our democracy to benefit their own bottom lines,” campaign spokesman Jacob Peters said in a statement to the Arizona Republic in April.
But throughout 2018 and the first half of 2019, Kelly received payment for 62 speeches to a variety of universities, an insurance company, and other large corporations. According to Politico, Kelly’s most recent speech was on June 4 to the Electric Utility Fleet Managers Conference in Virginia. His most lucrative speeches earned him $58,250 and were delivered to the car company Subaru and the yogurt manufacturer Chobani.
Additionally, Kelly has accepted a number of individual donations from CEOs and executives of the corporations which he has sworn off. Kelly took $185,000 in donations in the first quarter from CEOs of 64 companies, including Disney, Tumblr, and Berkshire Hathaway, Roll Call reports. Kelly received another $245,000 from executives at Royce Corp., Raytheon, space technology company Maxar Technologies, and other corporations.
Kelly has delivered 12 speeches since his campaign launch, making $290,400. Kelly’s campaign has stated that he agreed to deliver the speeches before deciding to announce his candidacy. Kelly is worth between $10 million and $27 million and would be one of the wealthiest members of Congress if elected.
Kelly has made corporate PAC donations one of the central issues of his campaign, calling them the “poisons our democracy” in his launch video. He has also attacked incumbent Sen. Martha McSally (R., Ariz.) for taking corporate donations.
Nic Rowan is media analyst at the Washington Free Beacon. His work has also appeared in the Wall Street Journal, First Things, and The New Criterion. Follow him on Twitter @NicXTempore.