A Billionaire's Wife Donated to Sanders, but Not for Long

2020 candidate returns her contribution
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 12, 2019 7:12 PM CST
Bernie's Camp Saw Who the $470 Was From, Returned It
Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., waves to supporters on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019, at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.   (Bryon Houlgrave /The Des Moines Register via AP)

Bernie Sanders' campaign frequently touts—on its website, social media feeds, and even merchandise—the fact that "not a single billionaire has donated to our campaign." That changed when Marta Thoma Hall, wife of billionaire Velodyne founder David Hall, sent the Democratic presidential candidate's campaign $470 because she was impressed when she heard Sanders call President Trump a liar. Alerted to the donation by Forbes, which notes Hall was the only billionaire or billionaire's spouse it could find among Sanders' donors, a Sanders spokesperson replied: "Thanks. We are returning Ms. Hall’s contributions."

Hall's response upon hearing that: "I think it's disappointing. I don't understand why they would do that. That’s ridiculous." She notes that she's not a big-time donor, but often sends small amounts to candidates who make an impression on her. "The problem is that there is corruption in some of the big companies," she acknowledges. But, she says of Velodyne, where she serves as president, "We run an honest business, and that can be done. That’s what democracy and good capitalism is all about. It’s running good businesses in a fair and honest way." She adds that she won't let Sanders' rejection influence her should he win the Democratic nomination: "I'd vote for him over Trump any minute." (Read more Bernie Sanders stories.)

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