Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox will recuse himself to avoid any appearance of impropriety in the agency's investigation of Cox's former congressional colleague, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.

The SEC is investigating Frist's sale of HCA Inc. stock. The country's biggest hospital chain, founded by Frist's father and brother, HCA has seen a number of fluctuations in its stock price since 2000. Frist's own stake in the company, held in a blind trust, has fluctuated in value, though not always in accordance with the stock market, according to regular financial disclosure statements.

HCA recently disclosed that it had received a subpoena from federal prosecutors asking for documents that the company believes are related to Frist's sale of company stock. Frist and his immediate family sold all the shares they owned in HCA in June, about two weeks before the company issued a disappointing earnings forecast resulting in a drop in its share price.

Spokespeople for Frist have denied any wrongdoing by the senator and said that his sale of the stock was only to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest when handling health care issues that come before Congress.

Cox left the House this summer after serving for 16 years, the last decade of which were as a member of the congressional leadership. According to Federal Election Commission records, Cox donated $1,000 to Frist's 2000 re-election campaign.

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