Senate Ethics Committee Must Investigate New Allegations Concerning Senator Frist?s Handling of HCA, Inc. Stock, Common Cause Urges

Senate Ethics Committee Must Investigate New Allegations Concerning Senator Frist’s Handling of HCA, Inc. Stock, Common Cause Urges

Common Cause on Thursday urged the Senate Ethics Committee to consider new information regarding Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) holding HCA, Inc. stock in an investment partnership, in addition to the HCA stock held in his other blind trusts. Today’s letter was prompted by recent disclosures by the Associated Press that between 1998 and 2002 Senator Frist held HCA stock in an investment partnership that was placed in a Tennessee blind trust separate from those governed by Senate ethics rules. The Tennessee trust allowed the senator or his brother to be informed of transactions and to influence decisions involving the stock, thus failing to “insulate him from a conflict of interest.”

“It seems apparent from these recently published reports that Sen. Frist faced a genuine conflict of interest long before his recent sale of HCA stock,” Common Cause President Chellie Pingree wrote in a letter sent today to the Ethics Committee.

In today’s letter, Common Cause again called on the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate whether Senator Frist violated Senate ethics rules by directing trustees to sell stock held in a blind trust. Additionally, Common Cause asked the Committee to clarify how the reported numerous communications between Sen. Frist and trustees of his blind trust, during a period when he was working on legislation of interest to HCA, did not qualify as a conflict of interest.

The letter specifically asks the Ethics Committee to launch inquiries into Senator Frist’s handling of HCA stock and the possible conflicts of interest it might have created,

and to inform Common Cause about its plans to proceed with an investigation. Additionally, Common Cause asked that should the Committee dismiss this request, that it “state publicly the Committee’s reasons for not investigating.”

Click here to read the full text of the letter:{FB3C17E2-CDD1-4DF6-92BE-BD4429893665}/FRISTLETTER10-13-2005.PDF