CDC Director Resigns Amid Tobacco Stock Scandal

CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald resigned this morning amid a tobacco stock purchase scandal that was revealed yesterday by Politico.

"This morning Secretary Azar accepted Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald’s resignation,” HHS says in emailed release. “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”

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

What happened is that as Politico reported on Tuesday, about one month after the Trump health appointee took over as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Brenda Fitzgerald purchased stock in a tobacco company. Of course, as CDC director, Fitzgerald oversees the agency’s efforts to push Americans to stop smoking tobacco products, so the purchase raised questions about conflicts of interest.

According to documents obtained by Politico, last August and September, Fitzgerald bought stock in several companies, including Japan Tobacco, a cigarette manufacturing company. She also purchased stock in pharmaceutical companies Merck & Co. and Bayer, and health insurance company Humana.

In a statement to Politico, a spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services acknowledged that Fitzgerald purchased “potentially conflicting” stocks but said that she has now sold them.

“Like all presidential personnel, Dr. Fitzgerald’s financial holdings were reviewed by the HHS Ethics Office, and she was instructed to divest of certain holdings that may pose a conflict of interest. During the divestiture process, her financial account manager purchased some potentially conflicting stock holdings. These additional purchases did not change the scope of Dr. Fitzgerald’s recusal obligations, and Dr. Fitzgerald has since also divested of these newly acquired potentially conflicting publicly traded stock holdings,” the spokesperson said.

Previously, Fitzgerald was already under scrutiny for her stock holdings. She was unable to testify before Congress in January because she had yet to address conflicts of interest created by stock she and her husband own.


NoDebt Wed, 01/31/2018 - 09:59 Permalink

"Due to the nature of these financial interests, Dr. Fitzgerald could not divest from them in a definitive time period"

Right.  Because selling shares of stock is so difficult to do.


JRobby macholatte Wed, 01/31/2018 - 10:30 Permalink

I guess she didn't think this one through completely. Brilliant otherwise........


Conflicts of interest

By December 2017 and after five months in office, Fitzgerald had yet to divest her financial holdings that posed conflicts of interest in her position at the CDC.[16] Democratic Senator Patty Murray raised questions as to Fitzgerald's ability to lead the CDC's anti-opioid programs given her financial stake in prescription drug monitoring programs.[16]

In January 2018, Politico reported that Fitzgerald had one month after assuming office as Director of the CDC started to invest in a tobacco company.[17] This raised ethical concerns given that the CDC is tasked with reducing consumption of tobacco, which is the leading cause of preventable disease in the United States.[17] She sold these stocks a few months later.[17] One day after the story broke, Fitzgerald resigned.[1]


Climb to GOVT Stardom

In 1972, Fitzgerald received her Bachelor of Science degree in Microbiology from Georgia State University.[3] She went on to medical school at Emory University, where she graduated in 1977,[3] completed post-graduate training and became an assistant clinical professor.[2] She then joined the United States Air Force, where she served first at Wurtsmith Air Force Base and later at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, D.C. She attained the rank of Major in the Air Force.[2]

After leaving the Air force, Fizgerald entered private practice specializing in gynecology and obstetrics. While in private practice, Fitzgerald promoted "anti-aging medicines" to her patients, medicines which have been criticized as being unsupported by scientific evidence and potentially dangerous.[4][5] She has received board certification from the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, though that organization has not been recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties.[5]

In 2011, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal appointed Fitzgerald as Director of the state's Division of Public Health (later Commissioner of the Department of Public Health[6]), which office oversees the state's eighteen health districts and the health departments of the 159 counties.[7] During her tenure as Georgia’s commissioner of public health, the state improved on some measures, such as immunization coverage for teenagers; but in a combined-outcomes assessment, calculated annually for each state, Georgia’s ranking dropped from 37th place in 2011 to 41st 2016.[8] In 2013, Fitzgerald started a $1.2 million statewide school exercise program, "Power Up for 30", with a $1 million donation by The Coca-Cola Company.[9] The Atlanta soft-drink company's donation was part of a broader $3.8 million pledge to the state in Coke's campaign to combat the obesity epidemic with changes to exercise rather than diet.[9]

Professionally, Fitzgerald has served as president of the Georgia OB-GYN Society. She has served as a board member of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials,[10] Georgia Public Policy Foundation, Paul Coverdell Leadership Institute, Georgia State School Board, Voices for Georgia’s Children, the Advanced Academy of Georgia, the University of West Georgia Foundation, and the Carrollton Rotary Club.[2]

In reply to by macholatte

swmnguy TheFederalistPapers Wed, 01/31/2018 - 11:47 Permalink

If she were a Democrat, they'd have had somebody to get her finances tidy-looking for her.  For the most part Democrats are sticklers for the appearance of impropriety.  Actual impropriety; whole 'nother story of course. 

It's Republicans who get caught up in this ticky-tacky bullshit.  I don't know why.  It doesn't seem to occur to them that there might be rules that would apply to them, or they can't visualize how their dealings might look, or might be represented, to others in public. 

For whatever reason, when it comes to supercilious pretenses of piety, that's Democrats, and they hide their real corruption behind the facade.  Republicans don't bother. 

In reply to by TheFederalistPapers

Eyes Opened Looney Wed, 01/31/2018 - 11:21 Permalink

"Anyone who “pushes” me to stop smoking can go fuck themselves" (cough-cough).   ;-)


I'm assuming that , as with free abortions for all , you object to free lung transplants for all (smokers) ?? 

Actions & consequences my friend...

Put that in yer pipe & smoke it...  😎

In reply to by Looney

Hongcha NoDebt Wed, 01/31/2018 - 10:21 Permalink

JAPAY trades as an ADR stock, 3.79% dividend paid regularly.  Good balance sheet.  Japanese blue chip, been around for 120 years.  She bought it at support in the 16's.  I would buy a Chinese cigarette stock in a heartbeat if any were offered.  They smoke like fiends and Philip Morris has no toehold there - only national brands.  They protect their companies.  Imagine that!

In reply to by NoDebt

swmnguy drendebe10 Wed, 01/31/2018 - 11:54 Permalink

If so she's devious.  She ran for Congress as a Republican in 1994, losing to Bob Barr in the primaries.  She and Newt Gingrich threw symbolic crates of tea into the Chattahoochee River for some god-damn reason they thought made sense.  She's made her stack working with Republicans and corporate interests for the most part since then.  Georgia's Republican governor has made sure she had some angle on public money since 2011.

And Trump hired her last summer.

So if she's a "corrupt progressive liberal democrap overpaid gubmnt bureaucratic turd," she's got an interesting approach.

Or maybe "corrupt overpaid gubmnt bureaucratic turd" is not a partisan descriptor.

In reply to by drendebe10

Katos NoDebt Wed, 01/31/2018 - 12:20 Permalink


In reply to by NoDebt

Infinite QE Squid Viscous Wed, 01/31/2018 - 10:06 Permalink

Day one. Two shots of insanity. One causes a drastic increase in childhood leukemia according to recent Japanese studies and the other for Hepatitis, as there is so much intravenous drug use and unprotected sexual activity in those nurseries these daze. Roll eyes. Fuck pharma and the (((AMA))). A child's liver is not fully functioning for a few months and they have no ability to process out the toxins in the vaccinations. So they start life with a compromised immune system, guaranteeing $$$ for (((pharma))).

In reply to by Squid Viscous

Infinite QE Squid Viscous Wed, 01/31/2018 - 10:28 Permalink

We used midwives for the birth of our daughter but the hospital had a `specialist' standing by for the inevitable `crisis'. When the guy read our birth plan and saw we refused any vaccinations, the clown said he'd override my decision if need be. LOL. A near riot ensued, especially when I asked him to read the warnings on the box. He told a nurse to fetch one to prove me wrong but alas, she returned empty handed saying she couldn't find one. LOL. I mocked the poor Indian bastard/doctor ruthlessly for the remaining part of our stay in that insane asylum. "Find the box yet?" I merciless chanted at him. In hindsight, not a good move as they could have locked us in that godforsaken place.

In reply to by Squid Viscous

Squid Viscous Infinite QE Wed, 01/31/2018 - 10:36 Permalink

wow, heroic... is he another H1B guy? we need more of those for sure,

you're lucky they didn't call your County's "child protective services" backed up by local cop thugs...

i got lectured yesterday about how my 3 month old twin boys need to be protected from Polio,

Polio? wtf?

"and they're already way behind on their vaccination "schedule"

i was polite as I could be... but basically laughed in their faces.

it's really fucking nuts

In reply to by Infinite QE