CDC head resigns after report she traded tobacco stocks

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Brenda Fitzgerald resigned Wednesday, one day after reports that she traded tobacco stocks while heading the agency.

“This morning Secretary [Alex] Azar accepted Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald’s resignation as Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” the Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement.


“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,” the statement said. “The Secretary thanks Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald for her service and wishes her the best in all her endeavors.”

Politico reported Tuesday that Fitzgerald bought a share in Japan Tobacco one month into her leadership of the agency, which is responsible for reducing tobacco use among Americans. 

The stock was one of about a dozen new investments Fitzgerald made after she took the job, according to Politico. 

She also bought stocks in Merck & Co., Bayer and health insurer Humana. 

Fitzgerald was already under scrutiny for failing to divest from other holdings she bought prior to taking the job, which led to her recusal from some health issues. 

She was invited to testify before Congress at least four times on various public health issues but was unable to because of her conflicts, drawing the ire of Democrats. 

She said she was unable to divest from some holdings because of legal and contractual obligations.

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