The Republican leading the investigation into Hunter Biden has his own shell company and complicated friends

(J Scott Applewhite/Associated Press)

The Republican leading the investigation into Hunter Biden has his own shell company and complicated friends

Election 2024


Dec. 14, 2023

Representative James Comer prides himself on being one of the largest landowners near his rural Kentucky hometown, and he has meticulously documented nearly all of his holdings in Congressional financial disclosure documents, about 1,600 acres.

(645 hectares)

in everything.

But there are six hectares

(2.4 hectares)

that he bought in 2015 and co-owns with a longtime campaign worker he has treated differently, transferring his ownership to Farm Team Properties, a shell company he co-owns with his wife.

Interviews and documents reviewed by The Associated Press offer new insights into the financial deal, which risks undermining the strength of some of Comer’s central arguments in his impeachment inquiry.



In particular, Comer has attacked some of Biden’s family members, including the Democratic president’s son Hunter, for their use of shell companies that appear designed to obscure millions of dollars in income they receive from shadowy middlemen and foreign interests.

Such companies typically exist only on paper and are created to hold assets,

search for if

property. Their opaque structures are often designed to help conceal ownership of property and other assets.

The companies used by the Bidens already play a central role in the impeachment inquiry, which is expected to gain speed after Republicans in the House of Representatives voted Wednesday to formally authorize the investigation. The vote follows the federal indictment last week of Biden’s son Hunter on charges that he was involved in a scheme to avoid paying taxes on his income through the companies.

But Comer’s high-profile role has also drawn attention to his own finances and relationships, including his ties to prominent figures from his hometown who have a complicated past not unlike that of those embroiled in his Biden investigation.

Comer declined to comment through a spokesperson but has aggressively denied that anything went wrong in setting up a shell company. He calls criticism something that only stupid, financially illiterate people pick up on.

The AP found that Farm Team Properties operates in a similarly opaque manner to the companies used by the Bidens, allowing

are Comer’s

stake in the land he co-owns with the donor is not disclosed on his financial disclosure forms, which show the company is worth as much as $1 million.

It’s not clear why Comer decided to put those six acres into a shell company, or what other assets Farm Team Properties might own.

Ethics experts say House rules would require members of Congress to disclose any assets of such companies worth more than $1,000.

It seems pretty clear to me that he should disclose the individual land holdings held by the shell company, said Delaney Marsco, a senior attorney specializing in congressional ethics at the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center in Washington.

Comer founded the company in 2017 to maintain his interest in the six acres he had purchased two years earlier in a joint venture with Darren Cleary, a key campaign worker and construction contractor from Monroe County, Kentucky, where the congressman was born and raised.

Cleary did not respond to an interview request. But the two have mutually praised each other over the years, including Comer calling Cleary my friend and the epitome of a successful businessman from the House floor.

Cleary, his companies and family have donated about $70,000 to Comer’s various campaigns, records show.

At the time he and Comer began their venture, Cleary sold an acre of his family’s land to Kentucky so it could build a highway bypass near Tompkinsville, which was completed in 2020. He sold Comer a 50% interest for $128,000 in six acres of property. that would eventually be located next to the highway.

Comer, a powerful political figure in this rural part of Kentucky, announced his bid for Congress days after purchasing the land.

Farm Team Properties have also become more valuable. According to Comer’s financial disclosure forms, the value increased from between $50,000 and $100,000 in 2016 to between $500,001 and $1 million in 2022, records show.

As chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Comer has presented himself as a bipartisan ethics crusader interested only in exposing the truth. As evidence, he has pointed to a long career as a state lawmaker and official trying to build bridges with Democrats.

However, interviews with allies, critics and voters reveal a fierce partisan who has ignored the misbehavior of friends and supporters when they could help him advance in business and politics.

The Jamie Comer I knew was bright and sunny and looking for common ground. Now he’s a Nixonian, said Adam Edelen, a former Democratic state auditor and friend, likening the lawmaker to a disgraced former president who resigned amid the Watergate scandal.

According to Comer, he is a man of self-made wealth who founded his first farm while still a student at Western Kentucky University and shrewdly invested in land. He also cut his teeth in the brazen machine politics of Monroe County, Kentucky, and knew how to win allies, according to those who knew him.

Barely out of high school, Comer wrote campaign checks to state politicians, including a $4,000 contribution to a Republican candidate for governor in 1990, according to campaign finance revelations published in local news stories.

Comer followed in the footsteps of his paternal grandfather, Harlin Comer, who was a leading figure in local Republican politics.

When Harlin Comer died in 1993, the 21-year-old Comer took over as chairman of the Monroe County GOP. A wave of indictments soon followed against local Republican officeholders, some of whom helped launch Comer’s political career and became close friends.

Mitchell Page and Larry Pitcock were among those charged in the sweep. Page, then the county supervisor, and Pitcock, the former county clerk, were sentenced to 18 months in prison in 1996 for tampering with a state computer database so they and their families could avoid paying car taxes.

Comer remained close to the men who did not respond to requests for comment. He praised Page in the House of Representatives in 2020 for his principled leadership.

Pitcock and his family members, meanwhile, have donated about $9,000 to Comer’s political campaigns and held one of Comer’s first fundraisers when he ran to become state agriculture commissioner, records show. Comer dismissed questions about the veracity of Pitcock sponsoring a fundraiser for him, noting to CN2 News that it helped him raise nearly $60,000.

In 2011, a voter fraud case roiled local politics and spotlighted Billy Proffitt, Comer’s longtime friend and former college roommate. Proffitt pleaded guilty in December 2011 and was sentenced to probation.

A few years later, Proffitt defended Comer with accusations that nearly derailed the future congressman’s political career.

During the 2015 Republican primary for governor, the Louisville Courier-Journal received a letter from a former college friend alleging that Comer had hit her and that their relationship had been toxic.

However, Proffitt told the newspaper that he had never seen Comer insult Thomas.

That doesn’t sound like Jamie at all, Proffitt said, using Comer’s nickname.

Comer ultimately lost the race by 83 votes. But the two remain good friends and business partners.

The Profitt family’s real estate company is leading the effort to sell the Farm Team Properties land.


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