On Monday April 23, the Guardian in England published a lengthy articleabout Fox News host Sean Hannity’s major investments in real estate – to the tune of almost $90 million. The information reportedly grew out of the recent government raid on President Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen and the seizure of a pickup truck’s worth of documents, recordings, cell phone, and computer equipment from Cohen’s office, home, and hotel room. In a court proceeding on April 16, it was revealed that Hannity was Cohen’s “third client.” The Guardian article was titled “Michael Cohen case shines light on Sean Hannity’s property empire.”
In an attempt to make something out of what initially seems to be very little (and, most important, nothing that was claimed to be illegal or unethical), the Guardian reported:
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.
Hannity’s “sin” – if there was one – in the eyes of the Guardian, and hundreds of other mainstream media outlets that immediately jumped on the story, is that he did not mention his investments or his relationship with Cohen when he reported on the government’s April 9, 2018 raid on Cohen. The Guardian also took issue with the fact that Hannity allegedly:
…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.
An accompanying article at the Guardian, “Will Sean Hannity’s tie to Michael Cohen be his undoing?,” was equivocal:
There is no suggestion that Hannity is in breach of his contract [with Fox News] and the terms of his engagement as a commentator, not a reporter….
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.
Not unexpectedly, close to 100% of the mainstream media presented this story arising from the Guardian’s article in a negative light, typified by CNN’s story”Sean Hannity is a ‘welfare queen.’”
One counter view – predictably unreported by the MSM – was offered by Tom Fitton, an attorney and the president of Judicial Watch, who tweeted, according to Gateway Pundit, “his belief conservative radio and TV icon Sean Hannity is being targeted by the Deep State with illegal leaks to the Guardian about some of his private real estate investment loans being guaranteed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.”
— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton) April 23, 2018
According to Gateway Pundit:
It is worth noting [Dominic Rushe and Jon] Swaine [the authors of the Guardian article on Hannity] and the Guardian do not claim to have done the legwork researching the “thousands of pages” pertaining to Hannity’s real estate investments. Swaine wrote, “reviewed by the Guardian” and “But the Guardian obtained records in which Hannity signed deeds and other documents on behalf of four of the LLCs”, leaving open the likelihood the Hannity records were handed to the Guardian by Hannity opponents.
Hannity is not accused by Swaine of breaking the law with his real estate investments, but Fitton is accusing Swaine of being the recipient of illegal leaks by Deep State operatives in the wake of the raid on Michael Cohen instigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller that included the taking of Cohen’s attorney-client records. Hannity has denied being a formal client of Cohen’s but has said he at times sought legal advice on real estate from Cohen.
I was wondering when the MSM would publish its first report of the sordid conditions on the ground at one or more of Hannity’s (an alleged “slumlord” according to some left wing sites) real estate investment properties. Well, surprise, surprise! The first in-depth article appeared on April 24, “Sean Who? An Afternoon in Hannityville,” in of all places the New Yorker, a left-wing publication that is no friend of Hannity’s.
On April 23, the day the story broke, veteran New Yorker contributing writer Charles Bethea made a pilgrimage to a Georgia apartment complex that Hannity owns:
Hampton Place Apartments, a hundred-and-fifty-two-unit development in Perry, a small town in the middle of the state, which I visited on Monday afternoon.
A pool at Hampton Place Apartments, Perry, GA. Source: hamptonplaceperry.com
Instead of a slum, Bethea found a development with:
…nineteen apartment buildings [that] each contain eight units with one or two bedrooms. They were built in 1997, along with a clubhouse. A small pool and tennis court were added the following year.
Bethea described what he saw:
Planters with flowers hung outside off-white units. There was a communal barbecue smoker, lots of satellite dishes. The lawn appeared to have been freshly mown and the roofs looked recently shingled. The leasing Web site listed three apartments available for rent, which translates to a ninety-eight per cent occupancy rate. Inside the leasing office, I picked up a glossy look book that advertised a fitness center, on-site laundry, the recently resurfaced tennis court, and the proximity to a “grocery center” that includes a Publix supermarket and a Starbucks. Horses pastured nearby. “Where luxury and convenience come together to make your new home,” the brochure read.
A typical apartment at Hampton Place Apartments, Perry GA. source: hamptonplaceperry.com
The half dozen or so residents Bethea encountered and spoke with were mostly African-Americans and self-described Democrats who were not familiar with Hannity. One of them said of the apartment complex:
It’s very well taken care of. It’s quiet. When you report something, they usually get on it as soon as possible. It’s diverse. The neighbors are friendly.
Bethea quoted two white residents of the complex including:
Ed, a ninety-two-year-old retired minister, prison chaplain, and religious author, [who] wore an N.R.A. hat as he took his daily walk around the complex. Ed, who is white, knew who Hannity was. “Wow, that’s something,” he said, when I told him Hannity owned the place. “I had no idea. That blows my mind. I’m sure he has the bucks.” Ed said he didn’t watch TV news, though, preferring Internet radio. “But I think Hannity is one of the best on TV news,” he told me. “Neat to know he’s my landlord.”
Hampton Place Apartments in Perry, GA. source: hamptonplaceperry.com
Full disclosure: Sean Hannity emailed me the link to this article. That was fortunate because it was not listed prominently when I did a search at Google News for updates on the “scandal” involving Hannity’s real estate investments.
In his email to me on April 25, Hannity added:
Insane week. Good news we did everything with dotted “I”s and “T”s. And we did amazing improvements on the facilities.
Will that news, and accounts like the one in the New Yorker, be reported in the MSM? Don’t hold your breath. Stay tuned here for further developments in this non-story story.