One of the many political parlor games of late is speculating on why Sean Hannity would have used the legal services of Michael Cohen. Cohen is far from one of New York City’s let alone the nation’s top legal minds. In fact the conventional wisdom is that you only retain Cohen if you want to make a mistress problems disappear. That does not fit Hannity’s reputation. He is not known to cheat on his wife nor are there any credible rumors of sexual harassment in his past. In fact Sean has a Boy Scout reputation and is generally considered to be a great boss by his male and female employees and former employees. Could it be possible that he was mainly telling the truth when he said his conversations with Cohen mostly pertained to real estate? CNN and Paul Begala may have shed some light on that Monday night. Let’s explore.
Begala has long been on CNN’s payroll and like me is an op-ed guy and campaign strategist, not a hard journalist. Also like me, he is not a rumor perpetrator and when he states something it can be taken as fact. In fact Begala’s source for this piece was The Guardian a reputable British publication.
Reportedly Hannity owns millions of dollars of real estate via at least 20 shell corporations which help conceal his identity. The properties were purchased using HUD guaranteed mortgages. That means multimillionaire Hannity used government backed loans to purchase properties at a lower cost than he could have obtained through conventional financing. To put it in the terms Hannity would use for the benefit of his right wing audiences, he used a government welfare program to enhance his personal fortune.
While there is nothing illegal about the practice it is certainly hypocritical to rail against federal government assistance programs meant to aid the poor and help the working class get over a temporary setback (like losing a job when a Republican administration tanks the economy) while simultaneously taking advantage of the same or a similar program just to sate your greed. It’s like a billionaire taking advantage of Sandy relief money; opps, I’m sorry Hannity’s buddy President Trump did just that. Perhaps a better example would be a Republican Governor using Sandy relief money meant for his constituents to run an advertising campaign featuring himself and his family; opps again, Trump supporter and then New Jersey Governor Chris Christie did that during a reelection campaign. Why does a tale about birds of a feather come to mind?
This brings to mind the old adage about just because you have the right to do something doesn’t mean it is the right thing to do. Perhaps that is why Hannity hid behind “false facades” and employed Michael Cohen.
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Full disclosure: I, like many working class Americans, have benefited from government program during my lifetime. However, it was never when I was making seven or eight figures and I have never owned real estate (or anything else for that matter) via a shell corporation.