Senate Majority Project

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Vision Thing

More Fuzziness on Frist’s Not-So-Blind Trusts

Making an appearance Fox News this past Sunday, Senator Bill Frist defended his role in the sale of HCA stock held in a “blind trust” in his name. Frist stated he ordered the sale of HCA stock from his blind trust to make sure there was “no appearance of whatsoever of a conflict of interest.” And further claimed,
“For the last 10 years or 11 years, I have no idea, no earthly idea, at any point in time how much stock of anything, not just that particular stock, but all of the stocks that I’ve owned in the past.
If that were true, it would all certainly clear the Senator’s name. But then the SEC wouldn’t have those pesky investigations.

The Associated Press reported that in December 2002, the trustee of the senator's supposedly blind trust told Frist that HCA stock valued at $15,000 and $50,000 was added to the trust. Two weeks later, Frist made nearly identical statements denying any knowledge of HCA stock in his blind trust.

At least twice earlier in 2002, Frist was told that his “blind” trusts contained HCA stock. First in May, when Frist was told that HCA stock valued at $500,000 and $1 million was moved to one of his trusts and HCA stock valued at $250,000 to $500,000 was moved to another. It is hard to reach any other conclusion than Frist owned a lot of HCA … blind trust or no. Later, on Nov. 20, 2002, the trustee wrote Frist that 14,781 shares of HCA were sold, along with three other investments.

On top of this, from 1994 until 2002, Frist had a substantial amount of HCA stock in a company called Bowling Avenue Partners, an LLP that was outside of his senate approved blind trust.

Its one thing to misspeak a few times about how much stock Frist owned -- though “none” typically means a number closer to zero than $1 million worth -- but Frist also stated HCA was not run by his family.

HCA co-founders included Sen. Frist’s father and brother. His brother, Thomas F. Frist Jr., was Chair and CEO as recently as 2001, and stepped down as chairman and CEO of HCA after a nine year investigation by the Justice Department into alleged Medicare cost-reporting fraud. Thomas Frist still currently serves on the company’s Board as Chairman Emeritus.


Tennessean Study Finds Frist’s Votes Helped HCA