Public Health Official Resigns over Tobacco Stock Trades

The Story:

Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, former Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Health, who was appointed by President Trump to head the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), resigned from that post Wednesday, January 31. A website had disclosed she’d been trading in tobacco stocks, including Japan Tobacco (which sells in the U.S. under four brand names).

The Background:

In 2012, Congress passed and then President Obama signed a bill sponsored by Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) that required the disclosure of the stock trading patterns of members of Congress and other federal employees.

Reporters for the website Politico used this law to obtain records showing not only that Fitzgerald owned tobacco stocks, but that she added to that position after becoming CDC head.

The Thing to Know:

Even aside from the tobacco industry, Fitzgerald owned other stocks (Merck, Bayer, Humana) that might be considered dubious because the conflicts they might have created for a public health official.

 

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