HHS Secretary Must Divest Holdings in Leavitt Group

February 3, 2005

To avoid any conflict of interest in his new job at U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt will divest more than $5 million of stock in his family’s insurance business.

The Leavitt Group’s products include Medigap coverage, policies created as a supplement to the government-funded Medicare system.

Leavitt, 53, is in the process of working out specifics of the divestment, which are being reviewed by ethics officials, The Salt Lake Tribune reported Feb. 2.

“Currently, Secretary Leavitt is working very closely with the Office of Government Ethics and HHS ethics officials to resolve his potential conflicts of interest regarding his holdings,” said HHS spokesman Bill Pierce. “He’s working as expeditiously as he can to do this.”

Financial report disclosures only require broad ranges of assets. Leavitt’s share in the company, founded in 1952 by his father, former state Sen. Dixie Leavitt, was valued at between $5 million and $25 million.

Leavitt’s brother, Dane Leavitt, president and chief executive officer of the Leavitt Group, said the family has been closely involved with the situation, but declined to comment on whether the family would buy out Mike Leavitt’s holdings.

Leavitt stated during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Finance Committee that he had a potential conflict of interest that he was working with the Office of Government Ethics to resolve. In his personal financial disclosure, Leavitt said that he would sell off his shares of the family business.

The Leavitt Group consists of 69 insurance agencies across the country with revenues of $72 million annually. It is the 27th largest insurance company in the nation.

The Senate confirmed Leavitt’s appointment as HHS secretary on Jan. 26. He had been head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency since November 2003. Before that, he served as Utah’s governor from 1992-2003.

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