Was blind, but now I see

Just how blind were Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's trusts?

By Tim Grieve
Published October 24, 2005 1:40PM (EDT)

When Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison went on "Meet the Press" over the weekend, she tried to equate the Valerie Plame investigation with the prosecution of Martha Stewart. Maybe she had Bill Frist on the mind.

Just to remind the good senator from Texas, the Plame case involves the outing of a CIA agent amid charges that the president lied about the reasons for a war that has claimed the lives of 1,997 American troops. The Martha Stewart prosecution involved charges that a woman famous for her homemaking skills lied about a stock sale that saved her $51,000.

Which brings us back to Sen. Frist. The Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating the Senate majority leader's suspiciously timed sale of stock in his family's healthcare company, and the Washington Post reports this morning that things may be a little more serious than Frist has let on.

While Frist has previously claimed that the trusts that held his stock in HCA, Inc. were "totally blind," the Post says records show that Frist was "regularly informed" about transactions involving the trusts in letters from the trusts' managers. As the Post explains, "The letters seem to undermine one of the major arguments the senator has used throughout his political career to rebut criticism of his ownership in HCA: that the stock was held in blind trusts beyond his control and that he had little idea of the extent of those holdings."

Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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Kay Bailey Hutchison R-tex. Martha Stewart