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Sun 24 Mar 2019 03:58 PM

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US Senate candidate returns $55,000 fee for UAE speech

Former astronaut Mark Kelly was paid to appear at an event in Abu Dhabi in summer 2018

US Senate candidate returns $55,000 fee for UAE speech
Former astronaut Mark Kelly launched his campaign for the 2020 United States Senate on February 12, running as a Democrat candidate in the state of Arizona.

Former astronaut Mark Kelly has returned a $55,000 fee he was paid for appearing at an event in Abu Dhabi last year, as the retired NASA veteran launched a campaign for the US Senate in 2020 focusing on his refusal to accept any corporate political donations, US media reported.

Kelly appeared with his twin brother and fellow astronaut Scott Kelly at an event in Abu Dhabi last summer. The lecture was titled ‘The Sky is not the Limit: Life Lessons from NASA's Kelly Brothers’ and the duo spoke about their careers in the space industry and what the United Arab Emirates’ space agency can learn from the American experience. The event was sponsored by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

Kelly launched his campaign for the 2020 United States Senate on February 12, running as a Democrat candidate in the state of Arizona. His campaign has focused on his refusal to accept corporate political donations.

CNN reported on Saturday that when the Abu Dhabi fee was brought to his attention Kelly decided to return the $55,000 he was paid for his appearance, which was booked through the Keppler Speakers agency.

Last week, Kelly reiterated his stance on the subject of corporate donations when he hit out at media reports that embattled American plane manufacturer Boeing, which earlier this month saw all its 737 Max aircraft following an Ethiopian Airlines crash, had set a new monthly record for political donations.

“This is not how our political system should work. Corporations should not be able to buy their way out of scrutiny, particularly where public safety is concerned. Another good reason why I am not taking a dime of corporate PAC [political action committee] money,” Kelly said in a tweet on March 22.