10/12/2005: Couldn't have happened to a more deserving guy....
We've heard that, apparently, U.S. Senator Bill Frist is in deep shit. From the Nashville Tenneseean we learn Frist accumulated stock in family company outside Senate trusts
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Outside the blind trusts he created to avoid a conflict of interest, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist earned tens of thousands of dollars from stock in a family-founded hospital chain largely controlled by his brother, documents show.Is Frist still planning to run for President? With luck, we may yet see a candidate running a presidential campaign from a prison cell. Who was the last person to do that in the U.S.? Eugene Debs?
The Tennessee Republican, whose sale this summer of HCA Inc. stock is under federal investigation, has long maintained he could own HCA shares and still vote on health care legislation without a conflict because he had placed the stock in blind trusts approved by the Senate.
However, ethics experts say a partnership arrangement shown in documents obtained by The Associated Press raises serious doubts about whether the senator truly avoided a conflict.
In that case, the HCA stock was accumulated by a family investment partnership started by the senator's late parents and later overseen by his brother, Thomas Frist. The brother served as president of the partnership's management company and as a top officer of HCA. Sen. Frist holds no position with the company.
The senator's share of the partnership was placed in a Tennessee blind trust between 1998 and 2002 that was separate from those governed by Senate ethics rules.
Kathleen Clark, a government ethics expert at the Washington University in St. Louis School of Law, said she doesn't believe the Senate trusts or the Tennessee trust insulated Frist from a conflict because the senator or his brother were advised of transactions and could influence decisions.
"What I find most appalling is the Senate calls it a qualified blind trust when it's not blind," Clark said. "Since the Senate says it's OK, the Senate has made it a political question. It's up to the voter. But there's no doubt it's a conflict of interest."
Credit chain: Scott Shields at MyDD, via Lurch at Main and Central.
Len on 10.12.05 @ 12:02 PM CST