Amid the other various scandals of this week, you may have missed the resignation of Center for Disease Control (CDC) director Brenda Fitzgerald on Wednesday. It came the day after Politico released an article about Fitzgerald’s involvement in tobacco stock being a conflict of interest with her position.
Fitzgerald purchased “tens of thousands of dollars in new stock holdings at at least a dozen companies” about a month into her job at the CDC. The gynecologist from Georgia was selected for the job by former Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary Tom Price, who was also forced into resignation because of a scandal involving his misuse of taxpayer money. She apparently toured the CDC’s tobacco laboratory the day following her purchase.
According to the CDC, more than 16 million Americans are living with a smoking-related illness. Cigarette smoking is responsible for about 1,300 deaths every day. In November, Fitzgerald herself said, "Too many Americans are harmed by cigarette smoking, which is the nation's leading preventable cause of death and disease."
Fitzgerald was already under scrutiny for her dealings with both pharmaceutical companies and health insurance. The HHS released a statement on Wednesday that states, “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. Due to the nature of these financial interests, Dr. Fitzgerald could not divest from them in a definitive time period. After advising Secretary Azar of both the status of the financial interests and the scope of her recusal, Dr. Fitzgerald tendered, and the Secretary accepted, her resignation.”
Dr. Anne Shuchat is serving as director until a replacement is found for Fitzgerald’s vacancy.