Fox News host Sean Hannity has said he only sought legal advice from Michael Cohen, President Trump's personal lawyer and fixer, regarding real estate, and they would have a lot to talk about, according to a report in The Guardian. "I hate the stock market, I prefer real estate," Hannity said on TV after he was revealed in court to be one of Cohen's three listed clients. "Michael knows real estate." And thousands of pages of public records show that Hannity has a massive portfolio — over the past decade, more than 20 shell companies linked to Hannity bought at least 877 properties for just under $89 million, The Guardian said Sunday.
The residential properties — in Florida, Georgia, Texas, Alabama, North Carolina, Vermont, and New York — include multimillion-dollar mansions used by Hannity, single-family units in modest suburbs, and apartments in low-income areas, The Guardian reports. Dozens of the properties were scooped up at a discount in 2013 from banks that had foreclosed on the owners during the financial crisis, and at least two large apartment complexes in Georgia were purchased with assistance from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Hannity bought the apartments in 2014 for $22.7 million, using $17.9 million in mortgages obtained via HUD, replaced last year with $22.9 million in loans from HUD and a new bank, The Guardian says.
Hannity has taken public stances against HUD financing going toward rental properties, criticized the mass foreclosures before Trump took office, featured HUD Secretary Ben Carson on his Fox News program, and brought Bill Lako — who took nominal control of the Georgia firm Henssler Financial LLC from Hannity in 2016 — onto his radio show, The Guardian says. Christopher Reeves, Hannity's real estate attorney, told The Guardian they'd "struggle to find any relevance" in Hannity's confidential property holdings. "I doubt you would find it very surprising that most people prefer to keep their legal and personal financial issues private. ... Mr. Hannity is no different." Read more at The Guardian. Peter Weber
Editor's note: This post originally mischaracterized Bill Lako's relationship with Sean Hannity. It has since been corrected. We regret the error.
Update 10:39 a.m. ET: Hannity released a statement about his property investments, saying the criticism was "ironic" because he was simply injecting his "personal money in communities that badly need such investment." You can read his full statement here.