Who is Former Silver Star Properties CEO Allen Hartman?

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Photo illustration of Allen Hartman (Illustration by Kevin Rebong; Getty, LinkedIn)

Ousted Silver Star Properties CEO and chairman Allen Hartman is accused of mismanagement and legal wrongdoing by his former company. Silver Star’s board fired off a laundry list of  Hartman’s alleged misdeeds in a presentation to shareholders last week.

The board, composed of real estate and finance veterans Gerald Haddock, Jack Tompkins and Jim Still, said Hartman is at fault for the company’s default on a $259 million CMBS loan. That default led to Hartman’s ouster and the company’s move to sell off its portfolio of office, industrial and retail properties and pivot to self-storage.

“Hartman was always busy, but not always on company business. He spent his time and his focus regularly on his personal, religious and political endeavors,” Haddock said in the transcript of a video sent to shareholders last month.

Who is Allen Hartman?

Hartman’s Real estate career began in 1978,  when he started selling home improvement services to homeowners. In 1983, Hartman devised the “Hartman Advantage,” a proprietary investment strategy that became the cornerstone of his real estate empire. 

In the years that followed, he acquired about 20 foreclosed properties, laying the groundwork for what would later become Hartman Short Term Income Properties XX, now known as Silver Star. 

Silver Star wasn’t the first of Hartman’s companies that pushed him out. He was ousted from Hartman Commercial Properties REIT in 2006. He founded that investment trust in 1998 to invest in retail, industrial and office properties, primarily in Houston and San Antonio. Another of Hartman’s companies, Hartman Management, handled day-to-day operations, according to an SEC filing

That REIT’s board voted to expel Hartman as its executive chairman and end its involvement with his management company, citing mismanagement. 

The board accused Hartman of trying to further his financial interests over the firm. The board eventually sued Hartman, accusing him of violating fiduciary responsibility. Hartman and the company settled in 2008, and all claims were dismissed. 

Hartman Commercial Properties REIT was renamed to Whitestone REIT

Outside the boardroom, Hartman’s public image has been shaped by his evangelical beliefs and involvement in right-wing politics. 

Hartman once handed Trump-branded “Make America Great Again” hats to employees during a company-sponsored event, the Houston Chronicle reported. 

Hartman and his wife, Lisa, also sit on the advisory council for the conservative nonprofit Turning Point USA, which advocates conservative politics on high school and college campuses. 

Hartman has donated over $100,000 to a slew of Republican candidates and committees including Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ gubernatorial campaign, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz’s 2016 presidential bid and the Harris County Republican Party. 

Hartman made headlines for his legal battles against COVID-19 restrictions. In 2020, he joined his physician and GOP donor Steven Hotze in lawsuits opposing statewide lockdown orders and county-wide mask mandates. 

Employees of another Hartman company,  Hartman Income REIT, told Buzzfeed News that Hartman chastised employees who wore masks. An anonymous employee said Hartman told him “you can either take off your mask, or you can go home.” His anti-mask crusade eventually led to a coronavirus outbreak at the company’s Houston headquarters in 2020, the outlet reported.

Hartman’s faith plays a significant role in his professional life. In a 2019 interview on the Hawaii-based radio show “Good Life,” Hartman said he ran his company “on Biblical principles.” He also discussed how he offers chaplain and prayer services and gendered Bible study groups across his Texas offices.  

“I feel responsible for these employees, and I would hate to see any employee not know Jesus and not live their life for God,” he said in the interview. 

Hartman is a deacon at Second Baptist Church, a megachurch in the Memorial area. He was married at age 42 and has three daughters. He is 71, according to public records.

Hartman sits on the board for the Elijah Challenge Ministry and the Great Awakening Project, according to his LinkedIn page. The Great Awakening Project is part of a conservative Christian dominionist movement known as the Seven Mountain Mandate. It seeks to sway what it calls society’s seven spheres of influence: religion, government, family, education, media, entertainment and business. The Elijah Challenge Ministry trains missionaries to evangelize to “gospel-resistant peoples” in underdeveloped countries. 

Hartman and Silver Star are entwined in a lawsuit similar to the one he battled against former company Whitestone REIT, with Silver Star’s board accusing the former chairman of bucking fiduciary responsibility and unlawfully soliciting stockholders. Hartman has denied all allegations. 

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