Mark Kelly, the former astronaut running as a Democratic candidate for Senate in Arizona, worked a pitchman for a multi-level marketing company selling nutritional supplements.
Between 2011 and 2016, Kelly gave several paid speeches in the United States and China on behalf of Shaklee, the Huffington Post reports. Kelly came into contact with Shaklee through NASA, which has long worked with the company.
Kelly spoke at Shaklee events in Orlando, D.C., and China. A video of Kelly's appearance in China shows the Democratic candidate driving on stage in a motorcycle while Kenny Loggins's "Danger Zone" plays in the background.
"Shaklee paid Mark a fee for speaking at our Shaklee Conferences because our Shaklee family has always been interested in the Space program and we thought Mark's story would inspire our distributors," the company said. "Throughout the company's long history, Shaklee has become one of the most respected direct selling companies in the world and a trusted health partner to millions of customers."
Although the exact amount Kelly received from Shaklee is unknown, 2011 congressional financial disclosures from Kelly's wife, former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, reveal Shaklee paid him $50,000 that year.
Kelly's campaign spokesman pointed out that NASA and Shaklee have a close relationship.
"NASA has had Shaklee products on every space flight since the early 1990s as part of the fluid loading protocol to counteract blood volume loss that happens in space, and Mark found both the rehydration drink and vitamins to be effective," Jacob Peters said. "Mark has given speeches to a number of organizations since retiring from NASA and has spoken about his experience in space."
Shaklee CEO Roger Barnett gave more than $18,000 to Giffords's campaigns between 2006 and 2011, and has given the maximum of $5,600 to Kelly's bid.
HuffPost notes that Kelly has faced scrutiny for other paid speeches. He has spoken on behalf of financial and pharmaceutical industry interest groups such as Goldman Sachs and AmerisourceBergen. Last month, he returned $55,000 he received from a speech he gave in the United Arab Emirates in 2018.