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Sean Hannity linked to shell companies that spent $90M on property: report
Fox News host Sean Hannity is linked to a group of shell companies that have spent $90 million buying hundreds of homes across the U.S through the help of foreclosures and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), The Guardian reported Sunday.
More than 870 homes in seven different states have been purchased over the past decade, ranging from large mansions to rentals for low-income families, according to the newspaper.
For some of the mortgages, Hannity reportedly obtained funding from HUD under the National Housing Act loan program, which was first guaranteed under the Obama administration.
HUD recently increased Hannity's original $17.9 million mortgage for purchases in Georgia by an additional $5 million, records obtained by the Guardian show.
Hannity did not disclose his cooperation with the department when he had HUD Secretary Ben Carson on his show last June, The Guardian noted.
During that segment, Hannity railed against the state of public housing and praised Carson, telling him, "You've done a good job."
"I like the idea of them owning the place," Hannity said of people who receive housing assistance from Carson's agency.
"Well, that's the real ideal," said Carson.
Spokespeople for HUD and Fox News declined to comment to The Guardian.
However, Hannity's real estate attorney, Christopher Reeve, said his client's property holdings were "highly confidential" and not relevant for the public.
"I doubt you would find it very surprising that most people prefer to keep their legal and personal financial issues private," Reeve told the newspaper. "Mr Hannity is no different."
Hannity also never disclosed that he was also a client of President Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, during any of his segments complaining about the FBI investigation into Cohen.
Hannity insisted that he only briefly consulted Cohen on real estate matters.
"I have occasionally had brief discussions with him about legal questions about which I wanted his input and perspective," Hannity said.
The shell companies are registered to the offices of Henssler Financial, a wealth management firm. Hannity has had one of the firm's principals, Bill Lako, appear on his radio show.
Hannity did disclose that he was Henssler's client and joked that the company took him on as a "charity case."
The Guardian noted that Carson was not personally involved in any of Hannity's dealings but does have the power to allow Hannity to convert rental complexes into sellable condos.
The host, however, has criticized former President Obama in the past for the rate of U.S. foreclosures, saying in 2016 there were "millions more Americans suffering under this president."
Several of Hannity's properties were bought at a discount after their previous owners defaulted on their mortgages in 2013, The Guardian reported.
Hannity is the hidden owner behind some of these shell companies, a fact his attorney did not dispute in a statement to the newspaper. Each company uses a variation of the same name mixed with the initials of Hannity's children.
Following the publication of the Guardian article, Hannity released a statement blasting the report.
"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," he said. "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," Hannity added.
"The LLC's are REAL companies that spend real investment money on real properties."
Properties are located in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, New York, North Carolina, Texas and Vermont, The Guardian reported.
Updated: 10:40 a.m. on April 23.