President Donald Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale gave a paid speech in Romania last month, CNN has learned.
Parscale spoke to a group during a conference on political marketing at the Romanian Academy during a March trip that was sponsored by McCann/Thiess Conferences, an event planning partnership that is co-founded by Romanian businessman Adrian Thiess.
In a statement to CNN, Parscale said the speech was “fully vetted and approved through the necessary channels in advance.”
“The handful of international speeches I have given are an opportunity to travel the world with my wife and to take a break from the around-the-clock schedule that a presidential campaign demands,” Parscale said. “We did not grow up with the opportunity to travel internationally, and speaking opportunities have allowed me to share my talent with other professionals in a university setting while having a brief break from the rigorous campaign schedule that I maintain.”
The speech, which was first reported by The Washington Post, focused on his role and the strategy of the President’s re-election effort, according to a recording.
Delivering paid speeches, whether domestic or abroad, is not illegal but is highly unusual for presidential campaign managers.
Robby Mook, who ran Hillary Clinton’s 2016 race, did not give paid speeches during the campaign. Other campaign managers also said they did not give paid speeches during previous election cycles.
Campaign spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany said Parscale “followed the Trump campaign’s approval process governing invitations for outside speaking engagements” and was there “as a private citizen, not to discuss official U.S. policies.”
Parscale, who is not and has never been a government employee, is signed with the Worldwide Speakers Group. The agency’s website lists his speaking fee as in the $15,000 to $25,000 range, but Parscale did not disclose how much he was paid for the speech in Romania. Several former administration and campaign officials work with the group, including Trump’s former chief of staff John Kelly, former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former deputy campaign manager David Bossie.
David Plouffe, who ran President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, drew fire in 2009 after he was paid $50,000 to give a speech in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. He later donated the fee, according to The New York Times.
CNN’s Jeff Zeleny contributed to this report.