CDC Chief Resigns After Trading in Tobacco Stocks

January 31, 2018

CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, MD, resigned Wednesday, one day after reports that she traded tobacco stocks while heading the agency.

CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, MD, resigned Wednesday, one day after reports that she traded tobacco stocks while heading the agency.

"This morning Secretary Azar accepted Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald’s resignation as Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention," HHS said in a statement.

The statement said she "owns certain complex financial interests" that she could not sell "in a definitive time period."

The resignation leaves the CDC without a leader in the middle of a severe flu crisis that has gripped most of the nation.

Fitzegerald was appointed last July by President Trump and was previously Georgia’s public health commissioner.

The stock was one of about a dozen new investments that Fitzgerald made after she took over the agency’s top job, according to a report in Politico on Tuesday. Besides the tobacco stocks - an obvious conflict with the CDC's mission of promoting public health - she also purchased pharmaceutical , health insurance, and food company stocks.

But before it became know that she had purchased stocks after she began her CDC position, Fitzgerald was already under fire on Capitol Hill because the complicated investments were preventing her from appearing before Congress, Politico also reported earlier his month.

Her short tenure was marked by other controversy as well. In December, a CDC budget analyst told the media that 7 banned words had to be avoided in any budget requests. Fitzgerald denied that that any words were banned.

While in Georgia, Fitzgerald's agency accepted $1 million from Coca-Cola to fight childhood obesity in the state, which set off a debate over whether a soft-drink company could or should have a role in a a related public health issue. Fitzgerald's post about the effort is still visible on the Coca-Cola website.