Thursday, September 29, 2005

Frist is gonna need a bigger fan

There's been a tremendous amount of excrement coming from the Republican leadership and it looks like a whole lot of it's flown back in it's entitled face. Despite yesterday's indictment of House [lack of] Ethics Leader Tom DeLay, Senate Majority Dictator and Grand Poobah of video-diagnostics Bill Frist is in the thickest of the muck with ongoing insider trading investigations (by both the Feds and the SEC, which upgraded its investigation to formal yesterday) into to extremely fortuitous timing of his sale order to divest his immediate family of HCA stock. HCA has been under investigation for multiple shady dealings starting in the early 90's when the senator's brother took over the helm from their father. According to RAW STORY, this isn't the first time the senator may have been helped by the timing fairy

Just two days before Sen. Trent Lott (R-MS) stepped down as Majority Leader in 2002, the company Frist's father started quietly settled a massive Medicare fraud lawsuit for $630 million. The eleventh-hour deal -- brokered with Justice Department attorneys after a seven-year court battle -- was made as Frist (R-TN) secured the necessary votes to assume the Senate's top post.

Those close to the case tell RAW STORY that top HCA executives were scheduled to be deposed the following month. Frist's brother, Thomas Jr., would have been forced to go on the record during the opening days of the senator's tenure as leader.

The timing of the agreement could raise further questions about Frist's ties to the company. Given that the Justice Department had been investigating HCA since 1993 -- some 120 months -- the coincidence of a settlement date so close to Frist's leadership election is striking
For his part, Frist claims no access to non-public information regarding HCA and insists that the divestment was made purely to avoid future appearance of a conflict of interest (charges that have dogged him since he became a Washington insider). Even if investigators discover Frist had insider information, Frist is likely to use his conflict of interest excuse to show his sale order was placed as preparation for a run for the presidency and the insider information had nothing to do with his determination to sell. This could be a successful loophole, but the timing still seems premature even if Frist planned to toss his hat in the presidential ring when he completes his term as senator. The fact that in 2003, Frist claimed the trust was as blind as Oedipus (post self-inflicted bilateral enucleation of the eyes) when it appears as though he had his own Teiresias to fill him in on pertinent details.

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