A name familiar in Alabama has come up in an investigation into spending from President Trump’s inaugural committee funds. The investigation also is focusing on whether some of the donors to Trump’s record-breaking $107 million inaugural fund gave the money in exchange for access to or influence over the Trump administration, the Wall Street Journal reported.
Tennessee-based developer Franklin L. Haney gave $1 million to the inaugural committee after Trump’s election, and federal prosecutors in Manhattan have asked to see documents related to that donation.
Haney’s name also has come up in the investigation into whether the president’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, has conducted lobbying activities without registering as a lobbyist since Trump took office.
Haney has been accused of offering Cohen $10 million in exchange for Cohen’s help obtaining a $5 billion federal loan to redevelop the Bellefonte Nuclear Plant in north Alabama.
That sale of the unfinished nuclear plant fell through last month when Haney’s company could not finish the federal regulatory paperwork process in time.
Haney is well-known locally as the owner of the former Social Security building in downtown Birmingham. One of his companies bought the building from the city for $7 million, then proposed leasing it back to the city for a variety of uses, including for school offices or a convention center.
In the latest proposal, Haney worked with former Birmingham Mayor William Bell in a bid for the city to lease part of the building to be a headquarters for the police and fire departments and municipal court, at more than $4 million a year.
That contract has never been signed, but Haney has successfully leased a portion of the building to the Department of Human Resources.
Haney built his real estate empire on government contracts, mainly as a government landlord, according to an investigation by the Sunlight Foundation. He also has been a heavy campaign donor, to candidates of both parties.
Read about the inaugural committee investigation in the Wall Street Journal.