CDC Director Resigns After Tobacco Stock Trades

CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald resigns over stock holdings

Fitzgerald, who is 71, declined to explain to Politico why she purchased thousands of dollars of Big Tobacco stocks after assuming leadership of the CDC on July 7.

She resigned has of the the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday.

Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, head of the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has resigned over a report that she had bought stock in a tobacco company. Due to the nature of these financial interests, Dr. Fitzgerald could not divest from them in a definitive time period. Patty Murray said Fitzgerald's ability to do her job was hindered by "ongoing conflicts of interest". "During the divestiture process, her financial account manager purchased some potentially conflicting stock holdings".

Fitzgerald, 71, a physician who served as the Georgia public health commissioner until her appointment to the CDC post in July, said in an interview late a year ago that she already had divested from many stock holdings. On Tuesday, Politico reported that Fitzgerald had bought tobacco stock in August. In December, the senator sent Fitzgerald a letter saying those recusals prevented her from fully engaging on public health issues including cancer and the opioid epidemic.

Fitzgerald's exit came four months after Tom Price resigned as the Health and Human Services Secretary after days of public outcry over his use of expensive private jets to conduct government business.

Politico reporter Sarah Karlin-Smith spoke with Marketplace host Amy Scott, and she said the conflict between Fitzgerald's financial choices and the CDC's anti-smoking mission is not the only reason for the resignation.

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This is another big blow to United States President Donald Trump's administration, especially to Health Department, which past year had to let go off then-health secretary Tom Price after news surfaced that he had travelled in private jets on taxpayer's money.

The CDC chief stepped down within 10 hours of the Politico report, via an announcement from a spokesman for Alex Azar, who was just recently sworn in as the new head of the Department of Health and Human Services. Both had Georgia political ties.

Unlike Price, who had tepid support from the medical community, Fitzgerald was seen as a good fit at the CDC.

There was no additional comment from Fitzgerald, who is a doctor and the former Georgia Department of Public Health commissioner. She was known for an initiative to encourage language development in babies and for efforts to improve childhood immunization rates, to cut childhood obesity, and, ironically, to encourage people to stop smoking.

HHS has tapped Anne Schuchat to serve as acting CDC director.

Nominees or prospective appointees for senior government posts-the CDC director is appointed, not nominated-undergo ethics vetting before being named.

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