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.
Murray said she hoped the newly confirmed HHS Secretary Alex Azar would encourage the president to choose a new director "who is truly prepared to focus on families and communities".
Such an investment is obviously at odds with the mission of the CDC, considering cigarette smoking will result in the deaths of almost half a million Americans this year. "The Secretary thanks Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald for her service and wishes her the best in all her endeavors", Lloyd added.
The resignation comes less than a day after Politico reported that Fitzgerald bought shares in Japan Tobacco within a month of assuming leadership of the agency in early July.
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Fitzgerald had already drawn Congressional ire for not divesting financial ties to other companies representing potential conflicts of interest.
Democratic U.S. Senator Patty Murray has repeatedly raised concerns about Fitzgerald's financial holdings, which have forced the CDC director to recuse herself from oversight of major issues including cancer, the opioid epidemic and issues involving information technology.
HHS said Tuesday that an ethics review when Fitzgerald took over the CDC identified stock holdings that posed conflicts of interest, "and she was instructed to divest" them. She told the news organization that selling investments in an electronic medical records company and a cancer screening company that were part of her husband's retirement account had proved hard.
The head of the Centers for Disease Control is resigning a day after a big Politico report on her stock trading. Fitzgerald had sold all of her stock holdings above $1,000 by November 21.
"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. It's an appointment that never should have been made. She was a close ally of Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who resigned in September after it was revealed he had used taxpayer money to fly on private jets.