Frist Stock Sale Conflicts With Senate Ethics Rules

Bill Frist is under investigation by the Justice Department and the SEC “about his sale of stock in his family’s hospital company [HCA] one month before its price fell sharply.” But that’s just the beginning of Frist’s problems.

Frist contacted the trustee of his “blind trust” and directed him to sell the HCA stock. According to Senate ethics rules there is only one circumstance where that is allowed. From the Senate Ethics Manual, page 339:

[D]irections to the trustee to sell all of an asset initially placed in the trust by an interested party which in the determination of the reporting individual creates a conflict of interest or the appearance thereof due to the subsequent assumptions of duties by the reporting individual.

In other words, the only time Frist could contact his trustee and tell him to sell a specific stock is when he took on new “duties” which created a new “conflict of interest.” The problem is that Frist is the Majority Leader, a position which he’s held since 2002.

What duties did Frist take on in June that he didn’t have before?