- Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald has resigned as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after a report said she traded Japan Tobacco while leading the agency.
- “Dr. Fitzgerald owns certain complex financial interests that have imposed a broad recusal limiting her ability to complete all of her duties as the CDC director,” a Department of Health and Human Services spokesman said in a statement.
- Fitzgerald had been in the position since July.
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just resigned.
Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, who had served as director since July, had financial interests that recused her from much of her duties.
Politico reported Tuesday that Fitzgerald purchased stock in Japan Tobacco while serving as CDC director. Fitzgerald had also bought shares of the pharmaceutical companies Merck and Bayer and of the health insurer Humana.
The purchase of the tobacco shares especially raised concerns, because one of the CDC’s goals is to prevent smoking.
“You don’t buy tobacco stocks when you are the head of the CDC,” Richard Painter, a former chief ethics officer under President George W. Bush, told Politico. “It’s ridiculous; it gives a terrible appearance.”
Fitzgerald submitted her resignation to Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who was sworn in on Monday.
“Dr. Fitzgerald owns certain complex financial interests that have imposed a broad recusal limiting her ability to complete all of her duties as the CDC director,” an HHS spokesman, Matt Lloyd, said in a statement. “Due to the nature of these financial interests, Dr. Fitzgerald could not divest from them in a definitive time period.”