by: Ethan Huff
(Natural News) The Donald Trump-appointed head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has already been scrapped from her position after it was discovered that she purchased shares in tobacco, drug, and food companies just one month after accepting the government job.
Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald is said to have abruptly resigned from her post just one day after an eye-opening report surfaced showing that she decided to become heavily invested in various industries that set her at odds with her role as a public servant.
As reported by Politico, it was Dr. Fitzgerald’s tobacco interests that really set people off, as one of the CDC’s assigned roles as a federal regulatory agency is to reduce tobacco use, which is widely recognized as a leading cause of preventable disease and death.
Ironically enough, Dr. Fitzgerald has long been a proponent of curbing tobacco (or so everyone thought). But her recent investments in tobacco companies suggest that she was saying one thing vocally while doing another privately. Dr. Fitzgerald had previously come under congressional scrutiny for earlier holdings as well that government officials say posed potential conflicts of interest.
“This morning Secretary Azar accepted Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald’s resignation,” the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced in a recent email release about the sudden resignation. “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.”
Former Bush administration ethics lawyer calls Dr. Fitzgerald’s actions “ridiculous”
Not only is Dr. Fitzgerald being accused of having maintained egregious financial conflicts of interest during her short time at the CDC, but she’s also in the ethics hot seat, as some say she’s completely flouted ethical norms for such positions. At best, her critics say, Dr. Fitzgerald’s shady trading behavior was “sloppy.”
And by the looks of it, she had no intention whatsoever of cutting those ties. It was only when she was caught in the act that Dr. Fitzgerald scurried away like a cockroach exposed to the light. She’s since been replaced, at least temporarily, by acting CDC Director Anne Schuchat, who had previously served as principal deputy director of the agency (as well as acting director in the immediate aftermath of Trump’s election victory).
“You don’t buy tobacco stocks when you are the head of the CDC,” Richard Painter, who served as George W. Bush’s chief ethics lawyer from 2005 to 2007, is quoted as saying. “It’s ridiculous; it gives a terrible appearance,” he added, calling the move “tone deaf,” given the CDC’s prominent role in promoting an anti-tobacco agenda.
Even if Dr. Fitzgerald, a licensed medical doctor and former Georgia Department of Public Health commissioner, had met all of the legal requirements for her job at the CDC, the whole thing still would have been questionable, Painter noted.
In her defense, an HHS spokesman reportedly claimed that Dr. Fitzgerald’s stock purchases were handled by her financial manager, and that she had subsequently sold them. The HHS Ethics Office also apparently told Dr. Fitzgerald to divest of certain holding that might pose a conflict of interest, upon which the account manager purchased other 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,” an HHS spokesman is quoted as saying.
Fitzgerald invested in drug companies as well as tobacco
But it wasn’t just tobacco that Dr. Fitzgerald decided to invest in after accepting her CDC position. A number of drug companies, including Merck & Co. (creator of Gardasil) and Bayer, were also found on Dr. Fitzgerald’s list of stock holdings, as obtained under the Stock Act. The Stock Act requires that all financial transactions of public officials exceeding $1,000 be publicly disclosed. Dr. Fitzgerald also reportedly purchased stock in the healthcare company Humana.
It should be noted that, prior to being appointed as head of the CDC, Dr. Fitzgerald had purchased stock in five separate tobacco companies, including Reynolds American, British American Tobacco, Imperial Brands, Philip Morris International, and Altria Group Inc., all of which were legal under Georgia’s ethics rules. After being appointed head of the CDC, Dr. Fitzgerald proceeded to invest in Japan Tobacco – and just one day later took a tour of the CDC’s Tobacco Laboratory.
If you’ve been following Natural News for a while, then you probably already know that corruption and the CDC go hand in hand. The agency has long functioned as a revolving door for industry and government, hence why so many dangerous drugs, vaccines, and chemicals that only benefit large corporations at the expense of public health are approved and sanctioned by the government as “safe and effective.”
“The CDC has its own lengthy history of corruption and deceit and has routinely turned a blind eye to conflicts of interest while it works to ‘protect the private good,’” reveals the team from World Mercury Project, commenting specifically about CDC corruption in the area of vaccine safety.
“Although the agency owns 56 patents applicable to vaccines, it has no problem shredding vaccine safety data it doesn’t like, while continuing to serve as the nation’s powerful (and ostensibly ‘independent’) arbiter of vaccine policy.”
Follow more news on the CDC at CDC.news.
Sources for this article include: