UPDATE: Continuing its coverage of Sean Hannity’s real estate holdings, The Guardian reported that the Fox News host was involved in almost $600,000 worth in deals with an individual who previously pled guilty to bank fraud and conspiracy.
A shell company affiliated with Hannity purchased 11 Georgia homes from the convicted real estate dealer, Jeff Brock, in 2012.
In 2016, Brock pled guilty to bank fraud and conspiracy, was sentenced to six months in prison, and was fined over $166,000 for participation in fraudulently gaining ownership of foreclosed property. Brock’s conviction resulted from a scheme in which he and two other individuals agreed to artificially drive down prices for foreclosed properties and then share the resulting profits among the participants in the rigging effort.
Brock had obtained some of the properties sold to Hannity from banks named in the lawsuit related to his foreclosure scheme. However, it is unclear if any of the properties Hannity now owns were purchased by Brock as part of his illegal conduct.
When The Guardian reported on Sunday that Hannity was linked to 20 shell companies that had helped him amass a real estate empire worth more than $90 million, the Fox News host said he is not personally involved in many of the decisions related to his property purchases.
🔥HANNITY🔥— Dr. Dena Grayson (@DrDenaGrayson) April 24, 2018
Sean Hannity’s shell company bought homes through Jeff Brock👉🏼convicted in 2016 of BANK FRAUD and #conspiracy for his role in a scheme to **rig auctions on foreclosed properties**‼️🤬#FireHannityhttps://t.co/F0OavRCSBq
Hannity’s real estate attorney Christopher Reeves seemed to reiterate this sentiment after the news linking Hannity’s company and Brock. Reeves said that the television personality did not know about the purchase of properties from Brock and “has no knowledge whether these properties were involved in the fraud.” He also said that both the Fox News host and companies that conducted the purchase were unaware of Brock’s “wrongdoing” before The Guardian contacted them.
Although Hannity has not been accused of misconduct and no evidence has been produced showing he knew of Brock’s fraud, the revelation that his businesses are involved with shady figures will certainly fuel criticism of the Fox News host. Currently, the more concerning report from The Guardian relates to Hannity’s failure to disclose his conflict of interest with Ben Carson while interviewing the Housing and Urban Development Secretary.
Sean Hannity spent at least $90 million to purchase over 870 homes in seven states during the last decade and was helped by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) while amassing his real estate empire.
The Guardian released the findings of an investigation, based on thousands of pages of public record, into the Fox News host’s real estate holdings, in a detailed article on Sunday.
Hannity’s real estate attorney, Christopher Reeves, wrote to The Guardian that, “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.”
Reeves also said he didn’t see the relevance of Hannity’s holdings.
Hannity’s holdings are dispersed between 20 shell companies, which own properties in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, New York, North Carolina, Texas, and Vermont.
Many of the properties were purchased in 2013, when banks seized properties for mortgage default, meaning Hannity benefited from foreclosures despite his prior criticism of former President Barack Obama for the country’s foreclosure rate.
Some of the most expensive properties are two holdings in Georgia, which were purchased for $22.7 million, using money from HUD. The properties were bought with mortgages of $17.9 million insured by the department.
The Guardian reports that “late last month, Hannity’s mortgages were replaced with loans for $22.9m that were rewritten with [Ben] Carson’s HUD and a new bank. There was no indication that Carson was personally involved in the process. Carson does, however, have the authority to allow Hannity from 2019 to convert the rental complexes into condominiums for sale, which could be lucrative for the television host.”
Time for some truth:https://t.co/2kfcIyOIR4— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) April 23, 2018
Hannity spoke with Carson, who heads HUD, on Fox News last year but did not mention funding he received from the department. The host praised the secretary during their conversation.
Hannity released a statement about The Guardian’s report on Monday.
“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, there 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,” he said.
Hannity’s failure to disclose his involvement with figures he hosts exacerbates concerns about his credibility. The host has maintained that he is not an objective journalist bound by expectations of impartiality and stated that he does not pretend to be offering unbiased reporting.
His lawyer’s claims that his journalistic conflicts of interest are private matters fall short of being a compelling argument, though. While Hannity’s lack of transparency about his relationship with attorney Michael Cohen exposed problems with the host’s commentary on President Donald Trump’s interactions with the lawyer, his finances were not entrenched the way they are with HUD.
For viewers who see Fox News as propaganda, not news, the Hannity-related housing revelations are hardly a departure from previous criticism of the host, who has been shown to distort facts and not disclose his conflicts of interest. Of course, to his supporters, his overlapping interests won’t matter.
Ultimately, this is what’s most concerning: Viewers can consider a television host infallible as long as his or her views align with theirs.
Banner/Thumbnail Credits: MEDIAEXPRESS.REUTERS, Mike Segar