Fox News host who said Trump’s fixer ‘knows real estate’ has a portfolio that includes support from Department of Housing and Urban Development, a fact he did not mention when interviewing secretary Ben Carson last year
When Sean Hannity was
named in court this week as a client of Donald Trump’s embattled legal fixer Michael Cohen, the Fox News host insisted their discussions had been limited to the subject of buying property.
“I’ve said many times on my radio show: I hate the stock market, I prefer real estate. Michael knows real estate,” Hannity said on television, a few hours after the
dramatic hearing in Manhattan, where Cohen is under criminal investigation.
Hannity’s chosen investment strategy is confirmed by thousands of pages of public records reviewed by the Guardian, which detail a real estate portfolio of remarkable scale that has not previously been reported.
The records link Hannity to a group of shell companies that spent at least $90m on more than 870 homes in seven states over the past decade. The properties range from luxurious mansions to rentals for low-income families. Hannity is the hidden owner behind some of the shell companies and his attorney did not dispute that he owns all of them.
Dozens of the properties were bought at a discount in 2013, after banks foreclosed on their previous owners for defaulting on mortgages. Before and after then, Hannity sharply criticised Barack Obama for the US foreclosure rate. In January 2016,
Hannity said there were “millions more Americans suffering under this president” partly because of foreclosures.
Hannity, 56, also amassed part of his property collection with support from the US Department for Housing and Urban Development (Hud), a fact he did not disclose when praising
Ben Carson, the Hud secretary, on his television show last year.
Christopher Reeves, Hannity’s real estate attorney, said in an email he would “struggle to find any relevance” in Hannity’s property holdings, which he said were highly confidential.
“I doubt you would find it very surprising that most people prefer to keep their legal and personal financial issues private,” said Reeves. “Mr Hannity is no different.”
Spokespeople for Hud and
Fox News declined to comment on the record.
The real estate holdings linked to Hannity are spread across more than 20 shell companies formed in Georgia. Each of the companies uses a variant of the same name, which combines the initials of Hannity’s children. Public records show the companies have bought up dozens of properties in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, New York, North Carolina, Texas and Vermont.
Sean Hannity linked to property empire aided by foreclosures, HUD: report