Oh, how financial affairs can be ugly things.

Bill Frist is in trouble. Good thing there’s a hurricane going on or more people would actually notice and that might be bad.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A federal probe of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist’s sale of HCA Inc. stock widened on Friday with the disclosure that U.S. prosecutors have sought information from the lawmaker and the largest U.S. hospital chain.

Frist, a Tennessee Republican and a potential 2008 presidential candidate, has come under fire for the sale of his stock in the company shortly before Nashville-based HCA warned that earnings would miss expectations.

I’m not a doctor or a financial analyst but my diagnosis is that he is not in a persistent vegetative state. He just wishes he was right now.

HCA said the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York had issued a subpoena to the company for related documents and Frist’s spokesman said the lawmaker had also received an inquiry from the prosecutor’s office about his sales.

Frist’s office had disclosed on Thursday that the     Securities and Exchange Commission had sought information on the sale. His spokesman denied the senator had any inside information when he initiated the sale.

“His only objective in selling the stock was to eliminate the appearance of a conflict of interest,” said spokesman Bob Stevenson.

Frist on June 13 requested the sale of all of his remaining stock in HCA, which was held in blind trusts, his spokeswoman Amy Call said. By July 8, the shares held for himself, his wife, and children were sold by trustees, she added.

They were in a blind trust, so why was he so suddenly concerned about the “appearance of a conflict of interest”?

Hi spokeswoman continues:

Frist had no control over the timing of the sale and it was unclear how much HCA stock he and his family still had prior to the sale, she said. The lawmaker listed assets in the range of $6.7 million to $36.5 million on his 2004 financial disclosure report.

“There was probably not that much (HCA stock) left at this point anyway because any good trustee would have likely diversified,” Call said. “But we have no way of knowing.”

That’s quite the range of assets. Ummm…couldn’t his financial advisers narrow it down a bit more than that? I mean, if I was Frist, I’d like to know exactly what I had. Then again, I’ve never had a gazillion dollars. Maybe that range is comforting in itself. I don’t know.

Apparently, neither HCA (“which Frist’s father and brother helped found”) or its officials are being investigated. Maybe they didn’t have the inside scoop that Frist allegedly did? Who knows? I just get giddy when Republicans are being investigated for possible corruption. It’s just so anti-family values, isn’t it?

Update [2005-9-23 22:11:46 by catnip]: Changed the title from “Bill Frist: The New Martha Stewart?” as I was reminded in the comments that she didn’t actually get nailed for insider trading. She just lied – a lot.

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