How Special

Trump’s head of the CDC, Brenda Fitzgerald, has resigned.

It has to do with the fact that she couldn’t do her job, because she had active investments in opioid tracking systems and in cancer detection systems and actively invested in tobacco companies.

Doing this while running a organization dedicated to eliminating the scourge of tobacco is a rather perverse way to hedge one’s bets:

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention resigned on Wednesday, in the middle of the nation’s worst flu epidemic in nearly a decade, because of her troubling financial investments in tobacco and health care companies that posed potential conflicts of interest.

Alex Azar, the newly appointed secretary of Health and Human Services, announced the resignation of the director, Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald. An agency statement cited her “complex financial interests that have imposed a broad recusal limiting her ability to complete all her duties as the C.D.C. director.”

The statement continued: “Due to the nature of these financial interests, Dr. Fitzgerald could not divest from them in a definitive time period. After advising Secretary Azar of both the status of the financial interests and the scope of her recusal, Dr. Fitzgerald tendered, and the secretary accepted, her resignation. ”


The resignation was announced less than a day after Politico reported on Tuesday that Dr. Fitzgerald, 71, had traded in tobacco stocks even after taking the position at the public health agency. Her financial investments and potential conflicts of interest were a source of concern in recent months for some members of Congress, especially when she had to recuse herself from appearing before them on certain agency matters.

A former Georgia health commissioner, Dr. Fitzgerald was appointed to the federal agency last July by Tom Price, a fellow Georgian who served as Mr. Trump’s first H.H.S. secretary — until he too was forced to resign under fire, for traveling extensively on private jets and expensing more than $400,000 for those trips to the government. Both Dr. Fitzgerald and Mr. Price had controversial investments in health care and drug companies; Dr. Fitzgerald also had financial interests (along with her husband) in several major tobacco companies.

In a September ethics agreement, she said she would divest from many stocks, including the tobacco holdings, that might pose a conflict of interest. The companies included CVS Health, Quest Diagnostics, AbbVie, Merck, and Zimmer Biomet Holdings. But she also said that she and her husband, Dr. Thomas Fitzgerald, were unable to divest from some holdings because of legal or contractual restrictions. Those were GW Ventures and Greenway Messenger, which are limited liability companies formed to invest in Greenway Health LLC, an electronic health information company, and Isommune, a biotech company focusing on early cancer detection.

Did I forget to mention that, while Georgia health commissioner, she got funding from Coca Cola to run an anti-obesity program that downplayed the role of sugar?

To quote Elvis Costello, “Oh, I used to be disgusted, and now I try to be amused .”

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