CDC chief Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald resigns amid tobacco stock controversy

The head of the federal Centers for Disease Control as well as Prevention resigned Wednesday on the heels of a bombshell report in which she had purchased stock in a tobacco company soon after taking her job, which oversees smoking-cessation programs.

Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, who can be an ob-gyn, also had owned stock in various other tobacco companies prior to assuming her post almost six months ago among the nation’s top health officials.

A lengthy delay in Fitzgerald’s divestment of her stock holdings, which included shares in health-care companies, was cited by the Trump administration Wednesday morning as the reason for her resignation.

News of her tobacco holdings was broken by Politico in a story Tuesday night, shortly before President Donald Trump, who nominated Fitzgerald for her job, gave his State of the Union address. Politico noted in a story two weeks ago in which Fitzgerald had repeatedly been unable to testify before Congress because of financial conflicts in which were still unresolved.

Fitzgerald’s then-boss, Health as well as Human Services Secretary Tom cost, resigned last September after Politico reported in which cost had repeatedly used expensive private charter flights for official travel rather than traveling by commercial airlines.

In its story Tuesday night, Politico reported in which Fitzgerald, the former commissioner of Georgia’s Public Health Department, bought $1,001 to $15,000 worth of shares in Japan Tobacco after taking the CDC post in early July.

She also made similar purchases of shares in drug companies Merck & Co. as well as Bayer, as well as of big health insurer Humana, according to the article.

Politico noted in which just a day after buying shares in Japan Tobacco, Fitzgerald toured the CDC’s tobacco laboratory, “which researches how the chemicals in tobacco harm human health.”

A CDC web page on smoking as well as tobacco use notes in which smoking can be the leading cause of preventable death from the nation. in which says smoking “harms nearly every organ of the body” as well as costs the U.S. billions of dollars of year in health costs.

Fitzgerald sold her shares of tobacco stock on Oct. 26, as well as all of her stock holdings worth more than $1,000 by Nov. 21, according to the article.

Fitzgerald also cited tobacco cessation as a top priority while serving in her Georgia post. Politico said in which prior to accepting the CDC position, Fitzgerald “owned stock in a few various other tobacco companies: Reynolds American, British American Tobacco, Imperial Brands, Philip Morris International, as well as Altria Group Inc. — all legal under Georgia’s ethics rules.”

The article quoted Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, who said Fitzgerald’s conduct was “stunning.”

“in which sends two messages, both of which are deeply disturbing,” Myers said.

“First, in which undermines the credibility of a public official when they argue in which tobacco can be the No. 1 preventable cause of disease. Second, as well as perhaps even worse, in which indicates a public official can be willing to put their personal profit above the ethics of investing in a company whose products cause so much harm.”

In a statement, a Department of Health as well as Human Services spokesman said brand-new HHS chief Alex Azar accepted her resignation.

“Dr. Fitzgerald owns certain complex financial interests in which have imposed a broad recusal limiting her ability to complete all of her duties as the CDC Director,” the spokesman said.

“Due to the nature of these financial interests, Dr. Fitzgerald could not divest coming from them in a definitive time period. After advising Secretary Azar of both the status of the financial interests as well as the scope of her recusal, Dr. Fitzgerald tendered, as well as the Secretary accepted, her resignation. The Secretary thanks Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald for her service as well as wishes her the best in all her endeavors.”

Dr. Anne Schucat, who had been CDC’s principal deputy director, was named acting director of the agency after Fitzgerald resigned.

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