Sun | Jan 20, 2019

CDC director resigns over financial conflicts

Published:Thursday | February 1, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Brenda Fitzgerald, Georgia Department of Public Health commissioner (left) and Georgia Gov Nathan Deal.


The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has resigned because of financial conflicts of interest, government officials announced yesterday.

Dr Brenda Fitzgerald's complex financial investments presented conflicts that made it difficult to do her job, according to a statement from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which oversees the CDC.

Alex Azar, who was sworn in as head of the department Monday, accepted her resignation.

Fitzgerald's investments have "imposed a broad recusal limiting her ability to complete all of her duties as CDC director," HHS spokesman Matt Lloyd said in the statement. "Due to the nature of these financial interests, Dr Fitzgerald could not divest from them in a definitive time period."

Fitzgerald's resignation follows a news report Tuesday that her financial manager bought tobacco and drug stocks after she took the job in July, while selling other stocks that posed a conflict of interest.

She had owned a range of stocks, including holdings in beer and soda companies, the tobacco company Philip Morris International, and a number of healthcare companies. She said that she sold the stocks, but in December, US Senator Patty Murray wrote Fitzgerald saying thatshe was concerned about unresolved financial holdings.

Government documents showed that Fitzgerald, 71, was unable to sell certain long-term investments in companies that could prevent her from talking about cancer and prescription drug-monitoring programmes, wrote Murray.

On Tuesday, Politico reported that a month after becoming CDC director, Fitzgerald's financial manager bought shares in Japan Tobacco and the drug companies Bayer and Merck & Co. Those stocks were later sold, Politico reported.