Sean Hannity unveiled as secret co-owner of company he routinely promotes
Hannity disguised his involvement via a shell company incorporated in Georgia
For months, Fox News’s Sean Hannity has promoted Henssler Financial and its Principal and Managing Director, Bil Lako. Hannity has featured articles from Lako on his website, and had Lako appear as a special guest on his radio show. Describing Lako as a “good friend”, and his “financial adviser”, Hannity failed to disclose that he stood to financially benefit from promoting Henssler.
Most recently, Lako wrote an analysis piece on Hannity.com criticizing the cost of the Special Counsel, writing,
“The funding is built into the congressional budget, so if you were really wondering, the citizens pick up the tab. That’s right, a political game funded by taxpayer dollars. Shocker!”
Corporate documents and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) records have revealed that Hannity is secretly a co-owner of Henssler Financial’s affiliate, Henssler Capital. His advertisement of the financial advisory firm came as the group sought and received millions of dollars in funding from investors.
Buried within Henssler Financial’s 2018 brochure are a list of its affiliates, including Henssler Property Management and the aforementioned Henssler Capital. It states, “[Henssler Capital] is owned by Dr. Gene, Mr. William G. Lako, Jr., Mr. Christopher E. Reeves, and SPMK II, LLC.”
Hannity’s involvement with Henssler Capital is shielded via his use of a shell company, SPMK II, based in Georgia. Shell companies such as the one managed by Hannity are typically able to keep their beneficiaries secret, however when a company enters into a Limited Partnership, the representative of the company must sign official documentation. In 2007, Hannity certified to the Georgia Secretary of State that he is the Manager of the General Partner SPMK II.
Records show that in 2018 the firm’s authorized representative was Christopher E. Reeves, a lawyer who is one of the other co-owners of Hessler Capital. The Sean Hannity Foundation is registered to the same address as SPMK II, 3735 Cherokee Street in Kennesaw, Georgia, which corresponds to Reeves’ law firm. State records list 25 other companies beginning with “SPMK” and registered to the Cherokee Street address. It was not immediately clear whether all of these were indeed under the control of Hannity. Most of the companies were involved with real estate transactions in Georgia and elsewhere.
The timing of Hannity’s promotion of Henssler raises questions about his motivation in giving the group air time. The Fox News host began highlighting Bil Lako and Henssler to his 3.6 million Twitter followers in January of 2018, labeling Lako as the “Hannity Show tax expert”. The elevation of Henssler on Hannity’s Twitter and radio show continued throughout February, as the company was in the midst of a round of fundraising.
Days after Lako was featured on Hannity’s radio show, Henssler filed a report with the SEC stating that they had raised $13 million from the time period stretching January 31-February 15. The identities of the investors remains confidential.
The free advertising of Henssler as it was in the middle of a round of fundraising, while failing to disclosure his personal involvement, raises serious questions about Hannity’s ethical standards.
What’s more, Henssler’s SEC filing shows that the group applied for a federal exemption under rule 506(b), allowing the company to raise an unlimited amount of money and sell to an unlimited number of investors. In order to be eligible to receive this exemption, companies must not participate in “general solicitation or advertising to market the securities.” Neglecting this requirement may result in a penalty.
Earlier this week, it was revealed in New York court that Hannity was one of three clients that retained the embattled Michael Cohen, along with President Trump and GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy. The other two men have used Cohen as a middle-man to pay “hush money” to women with whom the men had affairs. Hannity has claimed that the only legal advice he sought from Cohen was regarding real estate issues.
The apparent conflict of interest comes at a time when Hannity has been sharply critical of media outlets for being “holier-than-thou”. In a nearly 14 minute monologue on Tuesday, Hannity blasted “media hypocrisy.”
“They are frauds, they are hacks,” Hannity said, “They think they are holier than thou.”
Before concluding his opening segment, the Fox News prime-time host sarcastically quipped, “cry me a river.”
*Twitter user @Redrum_of_Crows contributed to some of the research included