CDC Director Resigns Amidst Tobacco Stock Controversy


CDC director Brenda Fitzgerald, MD, resigned today following reports that she bought shares in a tobacco company during her tenure.

CDC director Brenda Fitzgerald, MD, resigned today following reports that she bought shares in a tobacco company during her tenure.1

Dr. Fitzgerald was named to the position in July 2017 by President Trump, and she bought stocks in the tobacco manufacturer and about a dozen other companies only a month after her appointment, Politico reported yesterday.2

Additionally, a separate report earlier this month claimed that Dr. Fitzgerald’s financial investments raised numerous concerns about conflicts of interest that prevented her from testifying before Congress on key health issues.3

“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,” said US Department of Health and Human Service spokesperson Matt Lloyd in a press release.1 "Due to the nature of these financial interests, Dr. Fitzgerald could not divest from them in a definitive time period.”

The CDC has also been the subject of further controversies under Dr. Fitzgerald’s leadership. Notably, the agency faced heavy criticism in December after a CDC budget analyst claimed that employees were discouraged from using 7 terms—evidence-based, science-based, fetus, transgender, diversity, entitlement, and vulnerable—in budget requests, although CDC officials, including CDC Director Ann Schuchat via Twitter, denied that any words had been banned.

Dr. Fitzgerald’s successor has yet to be announced, with her resignation leaving the agency without a leader in the midst of a severe flu season.

Prior to her role as CDC director, Dr. Fitzgerald served as the public health commissioner for the state of Georgia.

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  • Statement from US Department of Health and Human Services regarding CDC director Brenda Fitzgerald. HHS website. Accessed January 31, 2018.
  • Trump's top health official traded tobacco stock while leading anti-smoking efforts. Politico. Accessed January 31, 2018.
  • CDC director's conflicts keep her from testifying. Politico. Accessed January 31, 2018.

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