Friday, July 28, 2006

Ethical Problems Make Frist A Has Been

I once thought our current U.S. Senator, Bill Frist, had a real chance of being a top Presidential contender.

However, after the whole ethical uproar about his buyout his HCA stock, Frist will be lucky to even garner double digit support in his party's primary for President in two years.

TomPaine writes, "Sen. Bill Frist may not have a direct financial stake in the record buyout announced earlier this week of the healthcare giant, HCA, he founded with his brother and father. But he does have a personal stake. For one, his brother belongs to the investment team that cut the deal. Then there's that nasty ongoing federal investigation into whether Frist dumped his stock in HCA right before the stock lost value. The SEC investigation has faded from the headlines since it was first announced, but it's not over. With any luck, the HCA deal will give reporters an opportunity to note that Frist is still under the cloud of an investigation. And the public will remember that, at the same time he was making decisions about the nation's health care policy, Frist had a vested interest in the private health care industry.

Even if Frist is ultimately cleared in the investigation, there's no question that his position in the Senate was key to passing the Medicare prescription drug plan. Medicare has always been a big part of HCA's business, comprising both legal and illegal activities, such as the case of the fraudulent billing scam HCA got nabbed for. As older and disabled Americans who depend on Medicare continue to struggle with the fallout from the disastrous Medicare bill, it's worth remembering the conflicted interests of the people involved in crafting it. And if coverage of the HCA deal stirs up Frist's sordid role in all this, so much the better.

Once again, ethical problems have brought down the career of a once promising politician. Sadly, we are seeing this play out around the nation all too often these days. Just last week, former Christian Coaltion posterboy Ralph Reed, lost his race in Georgia due to his ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

These Republicans should have learned by now that they are not going to get away with this corruption anymore. They can elect do nothing leaders like John Boehner all they like, but the law of the land and the voters have the final say.

And right now they are saying it is time for a change.