Former urban farmer and ABC News anchor Sam Donaldson is entangled in scandal after shadowy figures in the South African government’s mohair subsidy market accused him of using ties to powerful American media men to influence the worldwide production of toupees.
Donaldson, who is no stranger to accusations of mohair abuse, spoke to CNN’s Don Lemon about the scandal and unequivocally denied receiving more toupees than he is entitled to under South African law.
“There absolutely was no quid pro quo between me and anyone in the South African government,” Donaldson said. “But even if there was, it wouldn’t be illegal in South Africa.”
Donaldson, who became a millionaire working for ABC News, faced criticism in the 1990s for using American government farm subsidies to run his own mohair farm in New Mexico.
“When I was actively running mohair, the total world output was about 25,000 tons and I took less than $200,000 from American taxpayers to finance my toupee addiction,” Donaldson told Lemon. “It was legal then, and it’s legal now that I’m taking much less from South African taxpayers.”
Worldwide mohair production today is estimated at less than 5,000 tons a year, and South Africa accounts for 60% of the total, although there is an emerging market for producers in China.