Brenda Fitzgerald stepped down as the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday morning following a Politico report on the conflicts of interest created by her financial holdings.
“This morning Secretary Azar accepted Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald’s resignation as Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 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,” Health and Human Services spokesman Matt Lloyd said in a statement.
“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 Secretary thanks Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald for her service and wishes her the best in all her endeavors,” Lloyd added.
The news of Fitzgerald’s resignation came less than 24 hours after Politico published a report on Fitzgerald’s stock trades. Fitzgerald purchased stock in a tobacco company about one month after she took over as director of the CDC, an agency that urges Americans to stop smoking tobacco products. She later sold stock in that company, but was unable to sell other stocks that presented conflicts.
Fitzgerald had been forced to recuse herself from a number of issues that the CDC addresses, but she said she was unable to quickly sell those stocks. This prevented her from testifying at a January hearing and prompted scrutiny in Congress.