Federal ethics laws make it virtually impossible for members of Congress or top White House officials to set up trusts fully beyond their knowledge or control. While officials may choose to set up a conventional blind trust under the control of an independent administrator, ethics laws require the annual public disclosure of its contents.
So the laws provide for the creation of special "qualified blind trusts" like Mr. Frist's that are exempt from public disclosure. The laws strictly limit communications between the trustee and the beneficiary, but they also mandate disclosure of the original holdings and notification to the beneficiary whenever an original asset is sold.
And the rules give beneficiaries like Mr. Frist, Republican of Tennessee and the Senate majority leader, the power to order the sale of all of a stock or other asset at any time in the name of eliminating a potential conflict.
...Elected officials cite their creation of blind trusts as insulation against conflicts of interest. When asked about the influence of his multimillion-dollar stake in HCA, the hospital company his family founded, Mr. Frist often said his blind trust kept him ignorant of how many shares he owned. Occasionally, he even said, "I don't know if I own HCA," as he told The National Journal in an interview two years ago.
Though choosing to create a blind trust might help candidates politically, ethics rules do not require one. Many other government officials and members of Congress own or even trade stocks directly.
Well, then - Dr. Frist may have a political problem if his "I don't know if I own HCA" statements come back to haunt him. However, it does not sound like his knowlege of his HCA holdings will be part of his legal problem.