The Trump administration’s top health official resigned today after revelations surfaced that she bought stock in a tobacco company one month into her tenure as head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – an agency whose responsibilities include reducing tobacco use among Americans.
The Department of Health and Human Services issued a statement saying that Dr. Brenda 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."
Fitzgerald’s purchase of Japan Tobacco shares was only one of a number of financial holdings that posed potential conflicts of interest and prevented her, on at least four occasions, from testifying before Congress on vital public health issues.
The CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health (OSH) is the lead federal agency for comprehensive tobacco prevention and control. Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of disease and death in the U.S.
Fitzgerald also bought stocks in Merck & Co., Bayer and health insurer Humana after accepting the CDC position.