After Sean Hannity was revealed to be the secret third client of Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who also represented disgraced Republican donor Elliott Broidy, Hannity dismissed the questions about his relationship to Cohen and explained he had not retained Cohen “in the traditional sense” and that their conversations had been limited to real estate matters.
On Sunday, the Guardian reported details about those matters, as it obtained public records revealing Hannity has holdings consisting of more than 870 homes, bought through more than 20 shell companies that spent nearly $90 million making real estate purchases over the past decade.
Hannity, one of the highest-paid television hosts, making a reported $36 million a year from his television and radio shows, has portrayed himself as a critic of the “media elites,” once even, in an eight-minute monologue, criticizing those working for the “mainstream media” for being “overpaid,” making them unable to understand average Americans and issues like unemployment and debt. “They have their chauffeur-driven limousines, they like their fine steakhouses and expensive-wine lifestyles,” he said.
Dozens of Hannity’s properties were purchased at a discount in 2013, according to the Guardian, after banks foreclosed on their owners for defaulting on mortgages.
Two of his properties, apartments in Georgia bought for $22.7 million in 2014, were bought using mortgages backed by the Housing and Urban Development, which insures loans under the National Housing Act. Hannity, who came under fire for not disclosing his relationship with Cohen while defending the Trump lawyer, was also criticized for not disclosing the HUD-backed loans while interviewing Ben Carson, and for not disclosing his connection to Bill Lako, the principal of the wealth management firm his shell companies are registered to, while bringing Lako on his show as a financial expert. (He disclosed he was a client of the firm when Lako came on the show last month).
There is nothing illegal about Hannity’s dealings—just questions about his ethical duties as the host of a news program with millions of viewers.
Update, April 23, 2018: Sean Hannity released a statement responding to the criticism:
It is ironic that I am being attacked for investing my personal money in communities that badly need such investment and in which, I am sure, those attacking me have not invested their money. The fact is, these are investments that I do not individually select, control, or know the details about; except that obviously I believe in putting my money to work in communities that otherwise struggle to receive such support.
I have never discussed with anybody at HUD the original loans that were obtained in the Obama years, nor the subsequent refinance of such loans, as they are a private matter. I had no role in, or responsibility for, any HUD involvement in any of these investments. I can say that every rigorous process and strict standard of improvement requirements were followed; all were met, fulfilled and inspected.
The LLC’s are REAL companies that spend real investment money on real properties.