- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 14, 2006

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, facing a federal insider-trading investigation, will have a nice nest egg when he retires from Congress in January, recording income last year of more than $5 million from his largest blind trust.

Mr. Frist, Tennessee Republican, is hardly the richest member of Congress’ millionaires’ club, but he and numerous other lawmakers whose financial dealings have been questioned were under scrutiny as House and Senate lawmakers disclosed their finances yesterday.

Rep. Alan B. Mollohan, West Virginia Democrat, steered millions of dollars in federal money to nonprofit groups in his district that had contributed to his campaigns. Mr. Mollohan, who has reported large increases in assets in recent years because of a boost in property values, claimed part ownership in a Washington property firm and several properties in Bald Head Island, N.C., each valued at $1 million to $5 million.

Mr. Mollohan stepped down as the top Democrat on the House ethics committee because of charges, which he has denied, that he acted improperly.

Rep. Bob Ney, Ohio Republican, who gave up his chairmanship of the House Administration Committee while under investigation for his links to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, reported no major assets. Mr. Ney, one of the recipients of an Abramoff golfing trip to Scotland, has said he and his staff have stopped allowing any outside groups to pay for trips.

Popular opinion of Congress has plummeted this year as former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, California Republican, went to jail for taking more than $2 million in bribes; Rep. William J. Jefferson, Louisiana Democrat, faces investigation after $90,000 in suspected bribe money was found in his freezer; and several others remain under a cloud because of ties to Abramoff.

Mr. Jefferson reported assets of up to $500,000 from shares in a law firm and money owed to him from his mayoral and gubernatorial campaigns worth $100,001 to $250,000. He also had some outstanding loans: two valued at $50,001 to $100,000 and a third at $15,001 to $50,000.

The disclosure forms give little indication of unscrupulous activity, listing salaries — $162,100 in 2005 for a rank-and-file House and Senate member — and details of a lawmaker’s assets, outside income, travel and losses.

But the forms still provide a glimpse of private lives.

Mr. Frist, a heart surgeon with presidential aspirations, had a good year with income from his largest blind trust, worth $5 million to $25 million, bringing him more than $5 million.

Federal prosecutors and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating Mr. Frist’s order last year to sell all his stock in HCA Inc., the hospital company founded by his father and brother. Mr. Frist denies that he had any insider information about the stock, which lost 9 percent in value two weeks after the sale.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, reported a Citibank account that she shares with her husband, former President Bill Clinton, worth $5 million to $25 million and a blind trust valued at the same amount. The former president earned nearly $7.5 million in speaking appearances in 2005, a big boost from the previous year when bypass surgery and a book deadline kept him home.

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