- The Washington Times - Monday, June 14, 2004


With one blind trust valued at between $5 million and $25 million, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist isn’t in politics for the money. The Tennessee Republican also has myriad holdings, including real estate and part ownership of Hot Hits Inc., a Nashville music recording company.

Mr. Frist, a heart-lung transplant surgeon whose family founded one of the nation’s largest for-profit hospital chains, also reported two other blind trusts each valued in the $1 million to $5 million range. These assets were reported as part of financial-disclosure forms released by senators yesterday.

Blind trusts are used to avoid conflicts of interest. Assets are turned over to a trustee who manages them without divulging any purchases or sales and reports only the total value and income earned to the owner.

In contrast to Mr. Frist, Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota reported a more modest financial portfolio, although he received gross income of $583,250 for a book contract with Crown Publishing for “Like No Other Time: The 107th Congress and the Two Years That Changed America Forever.” All after-tax proceeds from the book were donated to charity.

Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, because of his status as a presidential candidate, released his forms last month. Mr. Kerry reported between $430,000 and $2.1 million in four separate trusts. But his fortune was overshadowed by that of his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, who is worth about $500 million.

Mrs. Kerry inherited her wealth from her first husband, Sen. John Heinz, Pennsylvania Republican, heir to the Heinz food fortune who was killed in a 1991 plane crash. She earned more than $5 million last year from investments and paid about $750,000 in taxes.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, reported that her husband, former President Bill Clinton, saw his earnings from the speaking circuit plunge from $9.5 million in 2002 to $4.4 million last year. Jim Kennedy, spokesman for Mr. Clinton, attributed the drop to the former president’s spending more time writing his memoirs, to come out this month, and making free appearances.

Mrs. Clinton received about $2.3 million in 2003 royalties for her memoir, “Living History,” helping to pay down some of their lingering debts from Whitewater and other investigations during the Clinton presidency.

Sen. Bob Graham, Florida Democrat, won’t have to worry about money when he retires at the end of this session. His interest in the Graham Companies, a Miami real estate and development firm, was worth between $5 million and $25 million. His unearned income from the firm last year was between $500,000 and $1 million.

Others planning retirement from the Senate were less well-off. Sen. John B. Breaux, Louisiana Democrat, reported a money-market checking account worth $15,000 to $50,000 as a major asset, while Sen. Don Nickles, Oklahoma Republican and Budget Committee chairman, had a portfolio of stocks and money-market funds worth $120,000 to $575,000.

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