Fitzgerald resigns as CDC director

CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald resigns over stock holdings

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention resigned Wednesday over financial conflicts of interest involving her investments in health care businesses.

Following her appointment to the agency, Dr Fitzgerald bought thousands of dollars worth of stocks including stocks in Japan Tobacco, a global company that owns many prominent brands.

Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald's complex financial investments presented conflicts that made it hard to do her job, according to a statement from the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the CDC.

Click the audio player above to hear the full interview.

HHS Secretary Tom Price appointed Fitzgerald, an ob-gyn, last July.

Fitzgerald was slow to sell off her holdings in the lead-up to her appointment and after, Lurie says.

But she had recused herself from various duties as CDC director, citing potential conflicts. But a new report by the news organization Politico shows that she also made new stock purchases after she took office.

In a tweet after Fitzgerald's resignation, Murray said, "I repeatedly raised concerns about Fitzgerald's conflicts of interest and broad recusals from work impacting public health issues like cancer and opioids - this is yet another example of this administration's dysfunction and questionable ethics". Her predecessor, Dr. Tom Frieden, said he talked to her after the Politico story came out, and Fitzgerald told him she didn't know about the purchase of the new stocks when they were made.

"This comes at an unfortunate time because the budget will soon be released by the administration, and we're concerned that, as was the case previous year, the CDC's budget may be significantly reduced in the proposed administrative budget", John Auerbach, a former CDC official who is now president and CEO of the Trust for America's Health, told The Hill.

The CDC's slogan is "24/7: Saving Lives, Protecting People". HHS did not respond to questions about why she invested in tobacco companies while working to reduce tobacco consumption.

He added: "She understands that any affiliation between the tobacco industry & public health is unacceptable, & that when she learned of it she directed that it be sold".

Her sudden exit at CDC comes at a precarious time for the agency. In addition, CDC personnel are still involved in hurricane recovery efforts in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

"Who is going to protect CDC so that CDC can protect Americans?" Fitzgerald is an obstetrician and gynecologist from Georgia. Prior to joining the administration, she served as Georgia's Department of Public Health commissioner from 2011 to 2017. was listed as one of her top priorities while she held that role. She has been criticized for accepting funds from the Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Foundation for a childhood obesity program.



Other news