The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention resigned from her post Wednesday after it was reported she purchased stock in a global tobacco company one month after she took the helm of the agency.
“This morning Secretary Azar accepted Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald’s resignation as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 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,” Matt Lloyd, a spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, said in a statement. “Due to the nature of these financial interests, Dr. Fitzgerald could not divest from them in a definitive time period.”
Lloyd said Azar accepted Fitzgerald’s resignation after he was advised of her financial interests, as well as the “scope of her recusal.”
“The secretary thanks Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald for her service and wishes her the best in all her endeavors,” Lloyd continued.
Politico reported Tuesday Fitzgerald, the former commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health, bought shares in Japan Tobacco not long after she became head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in July.
The stock purchases in the tobacco company were among the tens of thousands of dollars in new stock holdings in more than a dozen companies Fitzgerald purchased after taking over the Centers for Disease Control.
She also bought stock in Merck and Co., Bayer and Humana, and more than $15,001 in stock holdings for US Food Holding Co., according to Politico.
Fitzgerald has previously owned stock in other tobacco companies, including Reynolds American, British American Tobacco, Imperial Brands, Philip Morris International, and Altria Group Inc.
One of the Centers for Disease Control’s goals is to reduce tobacco use.