The meeting came days before federal agents raided Cohen's office and could be of interest to investigators for Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Franklin Haney, of Chattanooga, TN, reportedly was seeking an investment in an inoperative nuclear plant he owns in Alabama. Cohen likely was seeking a lucrative finder's fee. Reports MJ:
At a meeting in Miami on April 5, Franklin Haney, the owner of an inoperative nuclear power plant in Hollywood, Alabama, sought a major investment for his facility, according to two sources familiar with the gathering. His target, the sources say, was Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani, Qatar’s minister of economy and commerce and deputy chairman of the Qatar Investment Authority, the $300 billion sovereign wealth fund of the natural gas-rich Persian Gulf state. Also at the meeting, according to the sources, was Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s longtime personal lawyer and fixer. (Several days later, Cohen’s office and home would be raided by federal agents.) Now, as the Trump scandal expands to include Cohen’s business deals and possible interactions between Trump associates and officials of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, any relationship between Cohen and Qatar would likely be of interest to federal investigators.
No one should be surprised that the meeting was about money -- big, big money. And once again, it offers an Alabama connection to possible national and international criminality:
The two sources familiar with the discussions between Cohen and Al Thani tell Mother Jones that the two men met with Haney to discuss possible Qatari investment in his nuclear power plant. Marinetraffic.com, a website that tracks the location of large ships, shows that Haney’s $50 million, 167-foot yacht, the Emelina, was docked in Miami’s Miamarina from April 2 through April 7. (Haney’s yacht is usually based in Washington, DC.)
If a deal were struck, Cohen could have expected to receive a finder’s fee, according to the sources. “Michael doesn’t do anything without getting paid,” said one of the sources, who knows Cohen. It’s unclear whether any agreement was reached.
Who is Franklin Haney? His name cropped up just as the Mike Hubbard trial was getting started in Alabama. From MJ:
Haney, 77, a Chattanooga, Tennessee, native who made a fortune largely through leasing office space to federal agencies, bought the unfinished Bellefonte Nuclear Plant from the federal Tennessee Valley Authority for $111 million in 2016. Work on the plant started in 1975 but was halted in 1988 and never completed. Haney still needs to line up financing—an estimated $13 billion—to complete work on two nuclear reactors at the plant. Haney also needs Trump administration help. He is seeking an extension of an Energy Department loan guarantee, nuclear power tax credits, and various Nuclear Regulatory Commission approvals. And if the plant is eventually completed, Haney will need business from the TVA, the only viable customer for the plant’s electricity.
Haney has aggressively courted the Trump administration. After giving heavily to Democrats for years, he donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural committee through one of his companies. He has also contributed at least $125,000 to the Republican National Committee this year, according to Federal Election Commission records. Bloomberg reported last year that Haney had bragged to associates that he has dined with Trump at least a dozen times since the election. Haney is also a member of Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida club, according to the report.
Haney also has aggressively courted Alabama governors and walked away with sweetheart deals. From a May 2016 post at Legal Schnauzer, quoting an al.com report:
Let's start with former Gov. Bob Riley.
Haney, a big Democratic donor over the years who in the last election gave $2 million to the Obama re-election campaign, put a load of cash into Alabama Republican politics in 2006, and Riley got a bunch of it.
Haney, according to the Alabama Secretary of State's office, passed at least $130,000 to Riley through PACs run by noted PACman Clark Richardson, much like he did last year with the Birmingham City Council. . . .
Riley, later, would become a big advocate for Haney and the Birmingham building.
One of his last acts as governor was to sign a lease that would consolidate Jefferson County's Department of Human Resources and move that agency into 290,000 square feet of Haney's building. Annual rent on that building began at $1.2 million a year, according to the lease, but rises this year to $5 million for the remainder of the term, plus possible extra costs for operational expenses.
That's higher than any of the 63 state tenants in any of David Bronner's newer and shinier RSA buildings, according to state records. It appears to be the highest rental rate for any state agency.
Riley not only signed the lease as he left office, he lobbied for Haney in Birmingham.
What about Gov. Bentley? According to published reports, Mr. Haney, from Tennessee, might have helped pay for the "Luv Guv's" mistress, Rebekah Caldwell Mason:
Haney has resurfaced under the Bentley regime. This time, Haney dumped cash on Bentley--possibly even helping support a slush fund to pay Bentley's mistress, Rebekah Caldwell Mason--and wound up getting support for a project involving a partially built nuclear reactor in northeast Alabama. Haney also got more support for his office building. Write Whitmire and Archibald, in an article dated May 13, 2016:
Meanwhile, the governor has helped Haney, too, finalizing a state lease in Haney's Birmingham office building which costs the state $5 million a year.
And more recently, the governor threw his support publicly behind the sale of a partially built nuclear power plant currently owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority north of Scottsboro.
Haney's name reportedly is familiar to investigators examining money funneled into a non-profit organization that helped pay Mason. Haney, however, does not seem anxious to discuss the situation. Reports al.com:
In the most recent election cycle, Bentley's re-election campaign received at least $200,000 through such transactions — $75,000 of which moved to Bentley after the election, when the governor was raising the money he'd later use to pay Mason's salary during his second term.
Haney's name has popped up repeatedly in recent months as investigators and lawmakers have sought to learn more about the money paid into ACEgov, a shadowy 501(c)4 that also was used to supplement the pay of Mason.
Asked this week if he contributed to ACEgov, Haney referred questions to his lawyer.
Note the highlighted sections above about Bentley's support of a nuclear-plant project near Scottsboro -- after receiving donations from Haney that helped pay Rebekah Caldwell Mason. That's the same plant for which Haney, with help from Trump fixer Michael Cohen, sought investment from a Qatari official.
If Mueller investigators really want to follow the money trail involving Franklin Haney and his Alabama properties, they might want to start with former governors Bob Riley and Robert Bentley -- not to mention "Home Wrecky Becky" Mason.