CDC Director Resigns Over Unresolved Conflicts of Interest

Brenda Fitzgerald had drawn criticism for tobacco-related investments, among others.

Shawna Williams
Shawna Williams

Shawna joined The Scientist in 2017 and is now a senior editor and news director. She holds a bachelor's degree in biochemistry from Colorado College and a graduate certificate and science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

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Jan 31, 2018

CDC signFLICKR, RAED MANSOURFollowing a report by Politico that she had purchased shares in tobacco, pharmaceutical, and health insurance companies early in her tenure as director of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Brenda Fitzgerald resigned from the agency today (January 31). Fitzgerald had previously been criticized by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) for financial investments that led her to recuse herself from involvement in some aspects of CDC’s work, The Washington Post reports.

See “Trump Administration Chooses New CDC Director

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

According to a Department of Health and Human Services statement announcing the departure, “Dr. Fitzgerald owns certain complex financial interests that have imposed a broad recusal limiting her ability to complete all of her...

Before assuming the CDC post in July 2017, Fitzgerald had worked as an obstetrician-gynecologist. She had also served as a major in the Air Force and as chief of Georgia’s state health department.

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