We know that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is the target of a Federal investigation for his role in the sale of stock which was supposedly held in a blind trust for him, and which was suddenly sold just before information which Frist and a very small number of other people had, became public and caused the price to plummet.
Today, it turns out that Frist's AIDS Charity, World of Hope, Inc. paid nearly half a million dollars in consulting fees to members of Frist's inner political circle. Additionally, the overwhelming source of funds for the charity were just eighteen major donors-- many of whom needed Frist's help with legislation.
WASHINGTON - Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's AIDS charity paid nearly a half-million dollars in consulting fees to members of his political inner circle, according to tax returns providing the first financial accounting of the presidential hopeful's nonprofit.
The returns for World of Hope Inc., obtained by The Associated Press, also show the charity raised the lion's share of its $4.4 million from just 18 sources. They gave between $97,950 and $267,735 each to help fund Frist's efforts to fight AIDS.
The tax forms, filed nine months after they were first due, do not identify the 18 major donors by name.
Frist's lawyer, Alex Vogel, said Friday that he would not give their names because tax law does not require their public disclosure. Frist's office provided a list of 96 donors who were supportive of the charity, but did not say how much each contributed.
The donors included several corporations with frequent business before Congress, such as insurer Blue Cross/Blue Shield, manufacturer 3M, drug maker Eli Lilly and the Goldman Sachs investment firm.
World of Hope gave $3 million it raised to charitable AIDS causes, such as Africare and evangelical Christian groups with ties to Republicans — Franklin Graham's Samaritan Purse and the Rev. Luis Cortes' Esperanza USA, for example.
OK. He accepts millions of dollars from corporations who need his help passing legislation (and based on what's been passed this year and last year, seem to have gotten it). He hands out half a million to his cronies, then turns the rest over to other charities (why not just direct the donations to them originally, if his intent was to help AIDS victims, thereby avoiding any 'consulting' fees taken off the top?) And not just any charities at that, but charities that have ties to the Republican party.
So altruistic, he. And given that his 'inner political circle' will be the same crew that is running things in the White House if he becomes President (won't they? That is true of every President), it is easy to see what kind of administration a Frist administration would be.
I admire people who run charities, as a rule. It's a lot of work and often (if the charity is run correctly) a thankless job. But I expect when I give to a charity, that the money doesn't come with strings (nor does any money they get) and that it will be spent where it is intended. For example, today I fished in my pocket and found my change for the Salvation Army bellringer. Now, I don't agree with some things that the Salvation Army does (in particular their discrimination against gay people). However, I have no problem with giving them the few cents (unlike Bill Frist's top eighteen donors, I don't have millions to spread around) because 1) I'm not expecting anything in return (other than maybe a 'Merry Christmas,') and 2) I have every reason to believe, based on everything I've ever heard about the Salvation Army that very little goes to overhead, none for unneeded 'consultants,' and almost all of it to help the homeless or other worthy endeavors.
One still has to wonder though, about the judgement of those Republicans in the Senate who every day continue to trust Mr. Frist as their Majority Leader.