About one month after she took over as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Brenda Fitzgerald purchased stock in a tobacco company, Politico reported Tuesday.
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.
Documents obtained by Politico show that in 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, Politico reported.
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. Politico confirmed that Fitzgerald sold her stock in Japan Tobacco in October.
“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.
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.
Read Politico’s full report here.