Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., was updated several times about his investments in blind trusts during 2002, the last time two weeks before he publicly denied any knowledge of what was in the accounts, documents show.
The updates included stock transactions involving HCA Inc., the hospital operating company founded by Frist’s family.
Frist’s sale of HCA stock is under scrutiny by the federal government. Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA said Friday it had received a subpoena from prosecutors for the Southern District of New York, asking for documents the company believes are related to Frist’s sale of company stock this past summer.
Prosecutors also have contacted the senator’s office, Frist spokesman Bob Stevenson said Friday. He said neither the senator nor his office had received a subpoena.
Frist’s office confirmed the Securities and Exchange Commission was looking into the sale.
“Senator Frist had no information about the company or its performance that was not available to the public when he directed the trustees to sell the HCA stock,” Stevenson said in a statement.
Frist sold his HCA stock from several blind trusts this summer, at a time when insiders in the company also were selling off shares worth $112 million from January through June. Frist aides say he sold his stock to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.
Frist, asked in a television interview in January 2003 whether he should sell his HCA stock, responded: “Well, I think really for our viewers it should be understood that I put this into a blind trust. So as far as I know, I own no HCA stock”
Frist, referring to his trust and those of his family, also said in the interview, “I have no control. It is illegal right now for me to know what the composition of those trusts are. So I have no idea.”
Documents filed with the Senate showed that just two weeks before those comments, the trustee of the senator’s trust, M. Kirk Scobey Jr., wrote to Frist that HCA stock was contributed to the trust. It was valued at $15,000 and $50,000.
Frist may not only not be running for President any longer, he may be doing a “Trent Lott” soon. . .
— Steve Clemons