Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) said Monday he has "no idea" whether he is still an investor in a hotel group that is being sued for defaulting on a $15 million loan.
"I have no idea. I'm in a blind trust," Manchin told local reporters at the West Virginia Regional Technology Park after an economic development announcement.
"I have no idea on that. The only thing I'm told is that we have no involvement whatsoever, and we were very passive investors," Manchin said of his investment in AA Properties, LLC. "Blind trust, and no involvement."
Mountain Blue Hotel Group, which is partly owned by AA Property, is being sued by U.S. Bank National Association for defaulting on a loan for 15,470,000 and accruing nearly $600,000 in unpaid taxes.
"I've paid all the taxes I’ve ever been sent a tax bill on," Manchin said Monday. "I always will and always have, so I have had no notification of any of this."
Manchin and one of his longtime associates, Larry Puccio, have both denied being associated with Mountain Blue Hotel Group. Manchin's office initially said that neither has any affiliation with AA Property, but his staff later revised its statement.
"After looking further into the paperwork, Senator Manchin has part ownership in AA, but AA has no ownership or affiliation with the hotels," Manchin's communications director, Jonathan Kott, told the Washington Free Beacon earlier this month.
The lawsuit lists Manchin and Puccio as investors in AA Property, and AA Property as an investor in Mountain Blue Hotel Group, which borrowed the $15 million for a Hilton Garden Inn in Morgantown, W.Va.
Both Manchin and Puccio have adamantly denied that AA Property has any investment in or affiliation with the hotel group.
"Most certainly, take it to the bank, AA is not a stockholder and has no affiliation nor ownership with the hotel company, nor does Manchin or Puccio," Puccio told West Virginia's MetroNews.
The original loan document contradicts their statements, however.
The document lists Manchin and Puccio with a 12 percent interest in Mountain Blue Hotel Group and a 50-50 investment in AA Property; the lawsuit names them as borrowers in the original loan.
"Their names were also on a 2013 facility letter for the Hilton project that's now the subject of the lawsuit," MetroNews reported Monday.
Manchin said Monday that his blind trust is not part of the lawsuit.
"I'm not involved in any way, shape or form—or the blind trust I have is not involved," he said. "But I'm told—it is really blind. But Steve Ruby handles all of that. I understand everything is fine."
On Aug. 8, the day the lawsuit was filed, Manchin amended his most recent financial disclosure to increase his 2016 income from AA Property from $11,000 to $11,200.18.