Trump’s top public health official resigned from her post Wednesday after mounting questions about financial conflicts of interest, HHS announced.
Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald’s resignation comes one day after POLITICO reported she bought shares in a tobacco company — the leading cause of preventable disease and death and an issue she had long championed — one month into her tenure as CDC director.
Fitzgerald, a doctor and former Georgia Department of Public Health commissioner, assumed her role as CDC director in July and was close to former HHS Secretary Tom Price, who resigned in September after POLITICO reported his use of private jets.
The stock in Japan Tobacco was one of about a dozen new investments Fitzgerald made after she took over the job, according to documents obtained by POLITICO. Fitzgerald had already come under congressional scrutiny for slow-walking divestment from older holdings that government officials said posed potential conflicts of interest and prevented her from testifying before Congress.
Fitzgerald’s purchase of stock in Japan Tobacco in August, first revealed by POLITICO, drew scrutiny from public health experts who said it goes against the mission of her agency. She sold it at the end of October.
Beside Japan Tobacco, she also purchased tens of thousands of dollars in new stock in at least a dozen companies, including between $1,001 and $15,000 each in Merck & Co, Bayer and health insurance company Humana, as well as between $15,001 and $50,000 in US Food Holding Co., according to financial disclosure documents.