The director of the Centers for Disease Control has resigned due to numerous conflicts of interest that prevented her from doing her job effectively, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Fitzgerald, who was the Trump administration's top public health official, purchased stock in multiple tobacco companies- including Reynolds American, British American Tobacco, Imperial Brands, Philip Morris International, and Altria Group Inc. -after assuming the position of the nation's public health agency, Politico reported.
In a statement in November, Fitzgerald highlighted CDC data that illustrated the extent of tobacco use among U.S. adults, stating, "Too many Americans are harmed by cigarette smoking, which is the nation's leading preventable cause of death and disease".
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A spokesman for new HHS chief Alex Azar said, "This morning Secretary Azar accepted Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald's resignation as Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention".
Fitzgerald's departure came a day after Politico website reported she had traded in tobacco stocks a month after her confirmation in July.
Murray said the conflicts had forced her to send deputies to testify at congressional hearings involving the opioid crisis.
Buying shares of tobacco companies has led critics to call her behavior "sloppy" at best, and at worst, "legally problematic".
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News of her tobacco holdings was broken by Politico in a story Tuesday night, shortly before President Donald Trump, who nominated Fitzgerald for her job, gave his State of the Union address.
"It is unacceptable that the person responsible for leading our nation´s public health efforts has, for months, been unable to fully engage in the critical work she was appointed to do", Murray said in a statement on Wednesday.
Last September, Trump's first health secretary, former U.S. Representative Tom Price, resigned over his use of expensive taxpayer-funded private charter jets for government travel. Dr. Anne Schuchat will serve as acting director until a replacement is confirmed.
According to Politico, Fitzgerald was already under scrutiny for failing to timely divest the other holdings she bought before joining the CDC that likewise could have posed conflicts of interest.
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