Sean Hannity responds to 'ironic' report that detailed his $90 million property empire

  • A report from The Guardian found public records that link Fox News host Sean Hannity to shell companies that spent $90 million on more than 870 homes.
  • The US Department of Housing and Urban Development apparently granted Hannity loans to buy at least two of the buildings.
  • Hannity reportedly bought dozens of foreclosed properties at a discount while criticizing the US foreclosure rate under former President Barack Obama.
  • Hannity responded to the story Monday, calling the report "ironic."

Fox News host Sean Hannity responded Monday to a Guardian Sunday report on his real estate investments, which the publication researched after the cable news star was named as President Donald Trump's longtime lawyer Michael Cohen's mysterious third client from the past year.

"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," Hannity said in a statement provided to Business Insider. "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."

Hannity maintains what The Guardian described as a "property empire" the host has spent more than $90 million on through a series of shell companies.

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Sean Hannity through the years
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Sean Hannity through the years

Fox News host Sean Hannity is seen in the White House briefing room in Washington, DC, on January 24, 2017.

(NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 19: Political commentator Sean Hannity speaks during 'Vegas Strong - A Night of Healing' at the Orleans Arena on October 19, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The concert benefits people affected by the October 1, 2017, mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival when Stephen Paddock killed 58 people and injured more than 500 after he opened fire on the crowd. The massacre is one of the deadliest mass shooting events in U.S. history. (Photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 13: TV personality Sean Hannity attends The Hollywood Reporter's 35 Most Powerful People In Media 2017 at The Pool on April 13, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 13: Pundit Sean Hannity attends 'The Hollywood Reporter's 35 Most Powerful People In Media 2017' at The Pool on April 13, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Taylor Hill/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 13: Arianna Huffington (L) and Sean Hannity attend The Hollywood Reporter 35 Most Powerful People In Media 2017 at The Pool on April 13, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Todd Williamson/Getty Images for The Hollywood Reporter)

Conservative TV and radio personality Sean Hannity gestures during remarks during the opening day of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), an annual gathering of conservative politicians, journalists and celebrities at National Harbor, Maryland, U.S., February 22, 2017.

(REUTERS/Mike Theiler)

Fox News television personality and political commentator Sean Hannity speaks with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House, January 24, 2017 in Washington, DC. Spicer held his second daily briefing on Tuesday afternoon.

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Conservative TV and radio personality Sean Hannity (R) welcomes White House advisor Kellyanne Conway to his show being broadcast during the opening day of the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), an annual gathering of conservative politicians, journalists and celebrities, at National Harbor, Maryland, U.S. February 22, 2017.

(REUTERS/Mike Theiler)

Sean Hannity of Fox News takes a selfie with Republican U.S. presidential candidate Ted Cruz and a young fan during a campaign event at Arizona Christian University in Phoenix, Arizona March 18, 2016.

(REUTERS/Nancy Wiechec)

Sean Hannity attends day 6 of the 2016 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 3, 2016 in the Queens borough of New York City.

(Photo by Jean Catuffe/GC Images)

Jeb Bush speaks while being interviewed by Fox News TV host Sean Hannity (L) at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor in Maryland February 27, 2015.

9REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

WWII Veteran Jack ten Napel, Sean Hannity, and Kirt Webster attend the Charlie Daniels 2015 Volunteer Jam at Bridgestone Arena on August 12, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee.

(Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Webster Public Relations)

Sean Hannity (R) interviews former Vice President Dick Cheney (L) and his daughter Liz Cheney (C) regarding their new book at FOX News Channel's 'Hannity at FOX Studios on August 31, 2015 in New York City.

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Sean Hannity attends as U.S. Senator Marco Rubio announces his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination At The Freedom Tower at Freedom Tower on April 13, 2015 in Miami, Florida.

(Photo by Larry Marano/FilmMagic)

Fox News Channel anchor Sean Hannity poses for photographs as he sits on the set of his show "Hannity" at the Fox News Channel's studios in New York City, October 28, 2014.

(REUTERS/Mike Segar)

Willie Robertson and Sean Hannity attend day 11 of the 2014 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 4, 2014 in New York City.

(Photo by Uri Schanker/GC Images)

Fox News Channel anchor Sean Hannity poses for photographs as he sits on the set of his show "Hannity" at the Fox News Channel's studios in New York City, October 28, 2014.

(REUTERS/Mike Segar)

Former presidential candidate Herman Cain, Sean Hannity conservative talk show host, Honoree Neal Boortz and Comedian Jeff Foxworthy backstage for The Boortz Happy Ending at The Fox Theater on January 12, 2013 in Atlanta, Georgia.

(Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for WSB Radio)

Jeff Foxworthy and Sean Hannity during the FOX News 'Hannity with Sean Hannity' 15th anniversary show at Olympic Centennial Park on October 6, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.

(Photo by Chris McKay/Getty Images)

Sean Hannity speaks during the 5th Annual Values Voter Summit at the Omni Shoreham Hotel on September 17, 2010 in Washington, DC.

(Photo by Kris Connor/WireImage)

Talk show host Sean Hannity (left) shakes hands with Roy Innis, National Chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality, during the 21st annual CORE Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Ambassadorial Awards Dinner at the New York Hilton Hotel & Towers.

(Photo by Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

Sean Hannity and Larry Elder during Sean Hannity ABC Radio Show West Coast Broadcast at Redondo Beach Performing Art Center in Redondo Beach, California, United States.

(Photo by Mark Sullivan/WireImage)

ABC Radio talk host Sean Hannity does his show live in front of an audience as Talkradio 790 KABC presents the 'Hannitization Tour '03 Sean Hannity Live!' at the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center on March 6, 2003 in Redondo Beach, California.

(Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

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Thousands of pages of public records reviewed by The Guardian helped show Hannity's real estate investment strategy. The cable news titan is linked through the records to a number of shell, limited liability companies that spent at least $90 million on more than 870 properties spread over seven states during the past decade. 

The Guardian's Sunday report came days after Hannity was named as Cohen's third client whom the lawyer provided legal services to within the past year. Hannity insisted that the legal advice he received from Cohen was connected to real estate and did not involve any dispute with a third party.

Cohen is being investigated on suspicion of bank fraud, wire fraud, and election law violations. Investigators with the FBI and Southern District of New York seized documents and records in raids of Cohen's home, office, and hotel room on April 9.

Hannity also reportedly purchased discounted properties that had been involved in bank foreclosures, which on television and Twitter he blamed former President Barack Obama's policies for making increasingly common.

The Fox News host was able to build some of the portfolio with assistance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development. HUD reportedly granted Hannity loans to help fund mortgages worth $17.9 million to help purchase two Georgia apartment buildings. The department, under HUD Secretary Ben Carson, recently increased the value of those loans by $5 million, The Guardian reported.

Hannity did not disclose that fact while interviewing and praising HUD Secretary Ben Carson on his primetime program last year.

"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," Hannity said. "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. The LLC’s are REAL companies that spend real investment money on real properties."

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20 Regions Overrun by Foreclosures
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20 Regions Overrun by Foreclosures

1 in every 328 homes received a foreclosure filing in August 2012.

Properties with foreclosure filings: 859
Change from July 2012: -18.89 percent
Change from August 2011: -34.13 percent

Source: RealtyTrac

Photo: Flickr/Chad Jones

1 in every 321 homes received a foreclosure filing in August 2012.

Properties with foreclosure filings: 6,737
Change from July 2012: -11.92 percent
Change from August 2011: -22.30 percent

Source: Realty Trac

Photo: Flickr/Nrbelex

1 in every 309 homes received a foreclosure filing in August 2012.

Properties with foreclosure filings: 5,819
Change from July 2012: +0.41 percent
Change from August 2011: -29.83 percent

Source: RealtyTrac

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

1 in every 308 homes received a foreclosure filing in August 2012.

Properties with foreclosure filings: 4,390
Change from July 2012: -13.40 percent
Change from August 2011: +25.21 percent

Source: RealtyTrac

Photo: Flickr/J. Stephen Conn

1 in every 299 homes received a foreclosure filing in August 2012.

Properties with foreclosure filings: 2,002
Change from July 2012: -3.84 percent
Change from August 2011: +29.24 percent

Source: RealtyTrac

Photo: Flickr/hawleyjr

1 in every 297 homes received a foreclosure filing in August 2012.

Properties with foreclosure filings: 908
Change from July 2012: -27.99 percent
Change from August 2011: +56.55 percent

Source: RealtyTrac

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

1 in every 296 homes received a foreclosure filing in August 2012.

Properties with foreclosure filings: 1,255
Change from July 2012: +40.22 percent
Change from August 2011: -8.66 percent

Source: RealtyTrac

Photo: Flickr/mrak75

1 in every 285 homes received a foreclosure filing in August 2012.

Properties with foreclosure filings: 3,312
Change from June 2012: +2.89 percent
Change from July 2011: +47.33 percent

Source: RealtyTrac

Photo: Flickr/hao$

1 in every 282 homes received a foreclosure filing in August 2012.

Properties with foreclosure filings: 541
Change from July 2012: -34.34 percent
Change from August 2011: -53.64 percent

Source: RealtyTrac

Photo: Flickr/C Oda

1 in every 274 homes received a foreclosure filing in August 2012.

Properties with foreclosure filings: 3,184
Change from July 2012: -16.82 percent
Change from August 2011: -40.11 percent

Source: RealtyTrac

Photo: Flickr/El Cobrador

1 in every 267 homes received a foreclosure filing in August 2012.

Properties with foreclosure filings: 9,238
Change from July 2012: +48.83 percent
Change from August 2011: +12.75 percent

Source: RealtyTrac

Photo: Flickr/Vince Alongi

1 in every 249 homes received a foreclosure filing in August 2012.

Properties with foreclosure filings: 586
Change from July 2012: +14.68 percent
Change from August 2011: +52.60 percent

Source: RealtyTrac

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

1 in every 235 homes received a foreclosure filing in August 2012.

Properties with foreclosure filings: 16,192
Change from July 2012: +27.67 percent
Change from August 2011: +44.24 percent

Source: RealtyTrac

Photo: Flickr/vxla

1 in every 223 homes received a foreclosure filing in August 2012.

Properties with foreclosure filings: 429
Change from July 2012: +87.34 percent
Change from August 2011: +22.92 percent

Source: RealtyTrac

Photo: Flickr/Loco Steve

1 in every 204 homes received a foreclosure filing in August 2012.

Properties with foreclosure filings: 7,354
Change from July 2012: -8.21 percent
Change from August 2011: -27.22 percent

Source: RealtyTrac

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

1 in every 189 homes received a foreclosure filing in August 2012.

Properties with foreclosure filings: 1,236
Change from July 2012: -19.16 percent
Change from August 2011: -28.39 percent

Source: RealtyTrac

Photo: Flickr/inman news

1 in every 188 homes received a foreclosure filing in August 2012.

Properties with foreclosure filings: 1,681
Change from July 2012: +178.31 percent
Change from August 2011: -2.38 percent

Source: RealtyTrac

Photo: Flickr/prayitno

1 in every 185 homes received a foreclosure filing in August 2012.

Properties with foreclosure filings: 1,538
Change from July 2012: +62.24 percent
Change from August 2011: -1.47 percent

Source: RealtyTrac

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

1 in every 153 homes received a foreclosure filing in August 2012.

Properties with foreclosure filings: 458
Change from July 2012: +49.67 percent
Change from August 2011: +12.53 percent

Source: RealtyTrac

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

1 in every 172 homes received a foreclosure filing in August 2012.

Properties with foreclosure filings: 1,046
Change from July 2012: +13.57 percent
Change from August 2011: -22.92 percent

Source: RealtyTrac

Photo: Flickr/Tom Hilton

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While Hannity is listed as the hidden owner behind some of the shell companies, his attorney, Christopher Reeves, did not dispute to The Guardian that Hannity owns all of them.

Reeves told the publication in an email that he struggles "to find any relevance" regarding the holdings.

"I doubt you would find it very surprising that most people prefer to keep their legal and personal financial issues private,” he said. "Mr. Hannity is no different."

The 20 shell companies tied to Hannity were formed in Georgia and have been used to purchase properties in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, New York, North Carolina, Texas and Vermont.

'I really think that you should have disclosed your relationship with Cohen'

Hannity's real estate investments became a subject of scrutiny after the Cohen revelation in Manhattan federal court last week. At the request of US District Judge Kimba Wood last Monday, Cohen's attorneys disclosed in court that Hannity was the third client of Cohen's from the past year.

The attorneys previously said in a filing that Cohen had represented three clients in the past year, including Trump and Elliott Broidy, a Republican fundraiser. They argued that the third client should remain anonymous and said the client did not allow them to disclose that they had used Cohen's services.

Cohen arranged a $130,000 payment to the porn star Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2016 election to ensure her silence about an alleged affair she says she had with Trump in 2006. Cohen also facilitated a $1.6 million payment to a former Playboy model who said Broidy got her pregnant, The Wall Street Journal reported last week.

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Michael Cohen, Stormy Daniels hush payment scandal
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Michael Cohen, Stormy Daniels hush payment scandal
Adult-film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels speaks to the media outside US Federal Court on April 16, 2018, in Lower Manhattan, New York. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen has been under criminal investigation for months over his business dealings, and FBI agents last week raided his home, hotel room, office, a safety deposit box and seized two cellphones. Some of the documents reportedly relate to payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, who claims a one-night stand with Trump a decade ago, and ex Playboy model Karen McDougal who also claims an affair. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen arrives at federal court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 16, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Michael Avenatti, lawyer for adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, leaves federal court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 16, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Michael Cohen's attorney Todd Harrison arrives at federal court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 16, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen (centre) leaves federal court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 16, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan Mcdermid
Adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels speaks to media along with lawyer Michael Avenatti (R) outside federal court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 16, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Michael Cohen's attorney Todd Harrison is pictured outside the Manhattan Federal Court in New York City, New York, U.S., April 13, 2018. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon
U.S. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen exits a hotel in New York City, U.S., April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, speaks to media along with lawyer Michael Avenatti (R) outside federal court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 16, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan Mcdermid
Attorney for Stormy Daniels, Michael Avenatti is pictured though a window as he arrives at federal court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., April 16, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and attorney Michael Avenatti arrive at Federal Court in New York, U.S., on Monday, April 16, 2018. Daniels claims she had sex with Donald Trump in 2006 and took a $130,000 hush payment shortly before the 2016 election from lawyer Michael Cohen. Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images
President Trumps lawyer Michael Cohen exits the US Federal Court on April 16, 2018, in Lower Manhattan, New York. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen has been under criminal investigation for months over his business dealings, and FBI agents last week raided his home, hotel room, office, a safety deposit box and seized two cellphones. Some of the documents reportedly relate to payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, who claims a one-night stand with Trump a decade ago, and ex Playboy model Karen McDougal who also claims an affair. / AFP PHOTO / EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ (Photo credit should read EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Adult-film actress Stephanie Clifford, (C) also known as Stormy Daniels arrives for a court hearing at the US Courthouse in New York on April 16, 2018. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen has been under criminal investigation for months over his business dealings, and FBI agents last week raided his home, hotel room, office, a safety deposit box and seized two cellphones. / AFP PHOTO / Hector RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
Attorney for Stormy Daniels, Michael Avenatti(C), arrives for a court hearing at the US Courthouse in New York on April 16, 2018. President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen has been under criminal investigation for months over his business dealings, and FBI agents last week raided his home, hotel room, office, a safety deposit box and seized two cellphones. / AFP PHOTO / HECTOR RETAMAL (Photo credit should read HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 13: Michael Avenatti (R), attorney for Stormy Daniels, arrives for a court proceeding regarding the search warrants served on President Donald Trump's longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen, at the United States District Court Southern District of New York, April 13, 2018 in New York City. Cohen and his lawyers are asking the court to block Justice Department officials from reading documents and materials related to his relationship with President Donald Trump that they believe should be protected by attorney-client privilege. Officials with the FBI, armed with a search warrant, raided Cohen's office and two private residences earlier in the week. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
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Hannity was widely criticized for not disclosing the relationship with Cohen on his program, where he blasted the investigation. 

On Hannity's Fox News show last Monday, Alan Dershowitz, a Harvard law professor, told Hannity he should have come clean about getting advice from Cohen.

"I really think that you should have disclosed your relationship with Cohen when you talked about him on this show," Dershowitz said. "You could have said just that you asked him for advice or whatever, but I think it would have been much, much better had you disclosed that."

Hannity replied that his relationship with Cohen was "minimal."

Fox News on Tuesday said it was "surprised" to find out about Hannity's relationship with Cohen, but added that it conducted a review and stood by its primetime star.

"While Fox News was unaware of Sean Hannity's informal relationship with Michael Cohen and was surprised by the announcement in court yesterday, we have reviewed the matter and spoken to Sean and he continues to have our full support," the network said in a statement.

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