The head of the CDC resigns after report says she purchased shares of a tobacco company while in office

  • CDC Director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald resigned after a report said she traded Japan Tobacco while leading the agency.
  • “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,” a Department of Health and Human Services spokesman said in a statement.
  • Fitzgerald had been in the position since July 2017.

The director of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention just resigned.

Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, who had served as director since July 2017, had financial interests that recused her from much of her duties.

Politico reported Tuesday that Fitzgerald purchased stock in Japan Tobacco while acting as director of the CDC. Fitzgerald had also bought shares of pharmaceutical companies Merck and Bayer and health insurer Humana.

The purchase of the tobacco shares especially raised concerns, because one of the goals of the CDC is to prevent smoking.

“You don’t buy tobacco stocks when you are the head of the CDC,” Richard Painter, President George W. Bush’s former chief ethics officer told Politico. “It’s ridiculous; it gives a terrible appearance.”

Fitzgerald submitted her resignation to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who was sworn in on Monday.

“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,” HHS spokesman Matt Lloyd said in a statement. “Due to the nature of these financial interests, Dr. Fitzgerald could not divest from them in a definitive time period.”

NOW WATCH: Briefing videos

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.