CDC director resigns after reports she bought and sold tobacco company stocks

Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, resigned Wednesday over financial investments, particularly tobacco, that had posed potential conflicts of interest.

Earlier this month, despite being at the helm for more than 7 months, Fitzgerald had been denied the ability to comment before Congress regarding the CDC's intentions for cancer detection and facets of the opioid crisis-pressing concerns for the USA health care sector-due to financial conflicts of interests based on investments made by her husband in GW Ventures and Greenway Messenger.

The resignation followed a report by Politico Tuesday that she bought shares in a tobacco company one month into her leadership of the agency charged with reducing such use - the nation's leading cause of preventable disease and death and an issue she had long championed. Fitzgerald also reportedly purchased stocks ranging from $15,001 to $50,000 in U.S. Food Holding Corporation, a food distributor for restaurant and other institutions connected to the industries like healthcare, hospitality, education and more.

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In December, Murray, the ranking Democrat on the Senate committee which oversees the CDC, urged Fitzgerald to resolve ongoing conflicts of interest.

Fitzgerald has been criticized by lawmakers for holding on to some investments after becoming CDC director, but a Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson said her complicated stock portfolio was delaying some transfers. She also purchased stock in the health insurance and food industries at that time. According to that report, Fitzgerald "bought tens of thousands of dollars in new stock holdings in at least a dozen companies", including Japan Tobacco, one of the largest tobacco companies in the world. Fitzgerald had sold all of her stock holdings above $1,000 by November 21. Schuchat is a former acting CDC director. Lurie said. "Seen in that broader context, Fitzgerald's appointment and her brief, ineffective tenure is just a symptom of a gravely serious ethical disease afflicting this administration. We hope-perhaps with undue optimism-that the next director will be free of such glaring conflicts and bad judgment".

Fitzgerald's then-boss, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, resigned last September after Politico exposed Price repeatedly had used expensive private charter flights for official travel as opposed to flying commercial.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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