A quicksand of conflicts of interest has enveloped Fox News
opinion journalist entertainer Sean Hannity in the wake of revelations that he hired President Trump’s hush money fixer Michael Cohen as his attorney. Hannity’s mention of asking Cohen about his real estate dealings exposed his murky, $90 million dollar property ventures.
The latest shoe to drop is Sean Hannity’s sketchy purchase of a dozen homes in Atlanta through Henssler Financial, the financial advisor he part-owns and pitches on his show without telling his audience about his financial stake, which itself is another major financial conflict of interest.
Now, the Guardian reveals that Sean Hannity’s real estate company bought those homes from a major fraud ring convicted of perpetrating a criminal conspiracy to rig the bids in foreclosure auctions after the 2008 housing crash:
In 2012, a shell company linked to the Fox News host bought 11 homes in Georgia that had been purchased by the dealer, Jeff Brock, following foreclosures. Brock transferred the properties to corporate vehicles that sold them on to the Hannity-linked company at a profit.
Brock pleaded guilty in 2016 to federal charges of bank fraud and conspiracy for his role in an operation to rig foreclosure auctions between 2007 and 2012. He was sentenced to six months in prison and had to pay more than $166,000 in fines and restitution.
“By the very nature of this criminal act, the bank,” said Special Agent in Charge J. Britt Johnson of the FBI’s Atlanta Division when the 20-person operation was busted, “and more importantly, the homeowner owner in financial distress, are the victims that these federal laws were created to protect.”
Sean Hannity’s investment purchases were outputs from the bid-rigging scheme, which happened when his agents purchased 11 homes in the Atlanta area that Brock and his associates won at foreclosure for artificially low prices by coordinating the bids to avoid competition in the public auctions.
The entire story is the result of investigative journalism by UC-Irvine student Scott Stedman, who found corporate documents signed by Fox’s Hannity, which tied him to holding companies in Georgia, where Henssler Financial is based.
“The unveiling of Hannity being behind the ‘SPMK’ shell companies opened up Pandora’s box,” Stedman, who co-authored the Guardian’s story, told Washington Press exclusively. “It is unclear if Hannity’s houses specifically were illegally obtained or if he knew Brock was committing felonies.”
Sean Hannity’s other attorney Christopher Reeves denied that the Fox News entertainer had any knowledge of his deals with Brock, the convicted felon who was released from a federal prison last summer.
This past week, Hannity was also caught neglecting to tell his audience about the conflict of interest raised by his other real estate investments, which rely on an Obama Administration loan program administered by current HUD Secretary Ben Carson when he too appeared on Fox News.
Opinion journalism is a respectable profession, which is still informed by journalistic ethics, which include telling audiences about any potential conflicts that may arise from covering topics of personal financial interest.
But Fox’s Sean Hannity seems to regard his job as little more than a circus performer, jumping through hoops for dimes, with no interest in informing his audience, most of whom sincerely believe that he’s a somewhat impartial observer.
The sad truth is that Hannity seems to be tied up with direct and conflicting financial interests from his audience from every influencer that he contacts, from President Trump to Ben Carson to Michael Cohen to Wikileaks’ Julian Assange.