— -- Carly Fiorina's campaign is fighting back against any appearance of wrongdoing after reports that the candidate has continued to give paid speeches since becoming a presidential candidate.
Fiorina's campaign confirmed to ABC News today that the candidate has given two paid speeches since launching her White House bid, but that, in both cases, the speeches were committed to long before Fiorina was a candidate and that the money went directly to charity.
“The money never comes through us, it goes straight to charity,” Fiorina’s press secretary Anna Epstein said. “These were all booked at least a year out and Carly likes to keep her commitments when she can.”
Campaign legal expert Paul S. Ryan said the fact that the honorarium for the speeches went straight to charity and not through Fiorina’s campaign is an important technical distinction in Fiorina's defense.
“Anytime you are seeing money go to a candidate, the question is whether it is a contribution,” said Ryan, senior counsel for the Campaign Legal Center. “Given that neither Mrs. Fiorina nor her campaign received any money, there are no apparent legal issues.”
The question of Fiorina's paid speaking activities first arose today after the “Wall Street Journal” published a copy of an email sent by a Washington-based public speaking firm that represents Fiorina soliciting paid speaking opportunities for the Republican presidential candidate.
“I wanted to send you a quick, private note about Carly Fiorina. Though she maintains an active campaign calendar, she has limited availability for speaking engagements,” Leading Authority program consultant Lisa McFadden said in the email obtained by the “Wall Street Journal.”
“We don’t advertise Carly on the Leading Authorities website, but if you have an interest in booking her for an upcoming meeting or event, please let me know and I’d be happy to share her availability and fees,” McFadden continued in the email.
The email gave the impression that Fiorina has maintained an active paid-speaking circuit while at the same time running for president. But Fiorina's campaign said that the email is simply wrong and that the candidate has not accepted any additional paid speaking engagements since becoming a declared candidate.
“We didn't approve the email so we're not sure why it went out,” Epstein said. “We aren't accepting paid speeches.”