Monday, October 17, 2005

 
The Continuing Frist Saga


Like a bad penny that keeps turning up, HCA/Columbia and its ongoing scandals keeps rearing its ugly head and intruding into the affairs of Senator Bill Frist. The Congressional Quarterly and Washington Post reported that Senator Frist sold his stock in his family started and controlled HCA(Hospital Corporation of America) before a disappointing earnings report was released to the public. Sometime between June 13 and July I, Frist sold his stock in HCA which was being held in a blind trust. His wife’s and children’s stock was sold before July 8. On July 13 HCA announced that its quarterly earnings would not reach expected levels. The price of the stock fell to $49.90 after the announcement. It had reached a high of $58.22 on June 22.

The question immediately arises as to why Frist would make such a move that could deal a serious blow to his 2008 presidential ambitions. In light of the continual revelations of corporate scandals and insider trading, from Enron, World Com, Tyco, et al to Michael Milken and Ivan Boesky for the past 25 years it would seem to be quite an act of hubris.

Perhaps he thought he was only taking a page out President Bush’s playbook. After all Mr. Bush suffered no political problems after he did the exact same thing in 1990 when he sold Harken Oil stock before a bad earnings report was made public. Of course that was for mere pocket change, ‘only’ $850,000. The Frist sale is said to be worth many millions.

More likely is the fact that he has yet to suffer any consequences from the HCA/Columbia Medicare scandal. For those of you memory issues that is the biggest Medicare scandal in history. The company had to pay $1.7 billion in fines and reimbursements. That is billions with nine zeros. But then again no one had to serve any jail time. Good thing they were not in New Orleans, there’s a place that takes theft and looting seriously. Just ask Merlene Maten, the seventy-three old grandmother who was arrested and imprisoned over 2 weeks for allegedly stealing a sausage from a New Orleans deli after Hurricane Katrina.

Or maybe, the Senator is just counting on the voters’ history of short term memory and an even shorter attention span. If indeed this is the case, I believe he is in for a rude awakening. After 25 years of corporate domination, greed, and corruption I think the American people are ready to say enough. I know I am.

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