By all rights, the left- and media-created controversy over Sen. Bill Frist‘s sale of stock from his blind trust should be dead on Monday morning. This is because, as the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday, documents leaked to the media confirm Frist’s detailed explanation: that he began the sale process in April, long before HCA stock was dipping or profit warnings were issued.
In fact, had Frist been able to sell his shares promptly back in April, he stood to make about 40% more from the sale. But due to his adherence to ethics — a problem Democrats can’t seem to appreciate — Frist actually did lose quite a bit.
But the problems probably won’t go away. This is, in part, because various Republicans, not the least of whom is Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Christopher Cox, are recusing themselves from the process due to their ties to Frist or the party.
Republicans are concerned. “This is such a clear-cut case of nothing, yet we’re all backing off. The Democrats are going to keep this thing alive as long as they can,” says a Republican political consultant.
But timing may be going Frist’s way. The leaking of additional documents confirming his story is expected to help move the ball rolling toward expediting the SEC investigation. That said, an SEC source says at least two career staff there — both former political appointees in the Clinton Administration — continue to go full speed ahead for a formal investigation.
“They have already drawn up a subpoena list. They want to get into this thing and go beyond HCA and look at other stuff. Someone has to pull the plug,” says the SEC staffer.
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