Sean Hannity was full of showy sympathy for Russia-linked Trump adviser Michael Caputo for having to sell his home, ostensibly to cover legal fees related to the Russia investigation. But as a landlord, Sean Hannity hiked rents on his blue-collar tenants by 50% in one apartment complex and evictions by 400% in another.
In his introduction to last night’s interview with Caputo, Hannity said, “He's had to sell his home to pay for legal fees associated with the Russia probe and he's now fearful that his kids' futures are in jeopardy over this.”
According to Caputo, “It all started on March 20th of 2017 when the House intelligence committee had a public hearing where Representative Jackie Speier brought my name up and my wife's name up in the hearing and called me Putin's image maker.”
In reality, Caputo was Putin’s image maker, back in 2000, nearly two decades before Speier brought it up. He is also an admitted small-time thief who, after supposedly going straight, much later moved to Russia where he was reportedly "friendly with senior Kremlin officials" and married a Russian. When he returned to the U.S. again, Caputo founded the P.R. firm that got a contract to improve Putin’s image in the U.S. However, Caputo has said he is “not proud of the work today. But at the time, Putin wasn’t such a bad guy.”
It’s also quite possible the Russia investigation was not the only reason Caputo sold his house. In a 2016 article exploring Caputo’s unsavory history, The Buffalo News reported he owed the federal government ”more than $100,000 in back taxes and penalties and has multiple liens against him.” He had paid off back state taxes the previous year.
CAPUTO: I want to tell you, I, we were on our way out of our -- out of our home, Sean, on our way out because we couldn't have a home like we had and make Buffalo money. We had to move to Washington to make Washington money so I could pay the debt that I had -- you know, these $125,000 is more than I make in a year out here in East Aurora, New York. It's just, you know, that's how much -- you know, we don't make that much out here.
Please note: If Caputo really racked up $125,000 in legal fees just as an innocent bystander, he has my full sympathy. The point of this post is Hannity’s selective concern when there are a lot of people suffering worse than Caputo and some suffering is directly related to Hannity’s business practices.
As I previously reported, an apartment complex in Georgia raised its evictions from 12 to 61 in the nearly four years since Sean Hannity’s shell company purchased it, compared to the same period beforehand.
As part of an investigation into Hannity’s real estate holdings, The Guardian reported:
Betsy Coleman, a Hampton Place tenant who was evicted by Hannity’s company last year, said she had to leave the property after falling behind on her rent.
“It feels awful, because you don’t have anywhere else to go,” said Coleman, who is 49. “You’re trying to work to get the rent up, and you promised to get the money, and when you don’t get it, you have to go to court.”
In another complex owned by Hannity, renovations were made but the rents spiked by 50% for the blue-collar African American tenants, about double the rate in the area.
When contacted about his business practices, Hannity’s attorney told The Guardian the talk show host is not involved in the management of his properties.
Again, I’m not diminishing Caputo’s difficult situation. But something tells me Ms. Coleman did not have the same options. Nor is Hannity likely to give her an opportunity to fundraise on his show. In fact, Hannity seemed to think he's as big a victim as Caputo:
CAPUTO: What happened, Sean, really surprised me because just one last thing we tried to do before we had to really pack up was put up a GoFundMe. And between the time I told them to go to hell and the time I checked my GoFundMe, we had raised over $125,000 in $20 increments, more than 2,000 donors. I was just shocked by this.
HANNITY: Look, nobody should have to lose their home.
HANNITY: How sad they tried to intimidate you. We'll be watching you on T.V. You know, I've been in this business 30 years, and it's obvious millions of dollars have been spent to try and smear me in just the last recent weeks. We're either going to remain the United States of America or we're going to become Venezuela. Yes, you're right, we better stand up. This abuse of power is out of control. Michael, I'm sorry what happened to your family with all my heart.
Given Hannity's concern for people losing their homes and now that he can't plead ignorance about what's going on at his properties, maybe he'll step in and help out some of the struggling families. But don't hold your breath - unless they all become vocal Trump supporters and start ranting about the "Deep State."
For the record: This blog is funded only through advertising and small Paypal donations (though I hope to have our Café Press store up and running soon!). No person or entity has ever paid us to “smear” Hannity or anyone else. Nor have I heard of any such campaign. All the criticisms and commentary come from our hearts and minds, only.
Watch Hannity’s selective sympathy below, from the May 4, 2018 Hannity.
(Transcript excerpts via FoxNews.com, with light copy editing.)
Correction: the transcript originally said Hannity warned "or we're going to become Valenzuela."