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Trump-Appointed CDC Director Resigns After Buying Tobacco Stocks

Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald invested thousands of dollars in Japan Tobacco, one month into appointment

The director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been “smoked out.”

Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald (above right) has resigned, following a Wednesday report from Politico that the Trump administration’s top health official had bought thousands of dollars worth of tobacco stocks after taking her post. The Georgia native was appointed by President Trump last July.

The holdings were confirmed by the Health and Human Service Department, which a spokesperson called “potentially conflicting.” Fitzgerald bought between $1,001 and $15,000 worth of Japan Tobacco, which has several subsidiaries in the U.S., after starting at the CDC, according to records obtained by Politico. She toured the CDC’s Tobacco Laboratory — which researches the impact smoking has on the body — on Aug. 9, one day after buying her shares. The HHS said Fitzgerald’s investments were made by a financial advisor.

“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,” said the HHS Department in a statement on Wednesday. “Due to the nature of these financial interests, Dr. Fitzgerald could not divest from them in a definitive time period.”

The curious investment put Fitzgerald in conflict with the organization’s position on smoking considering that 16 million Americans are living with a disease caused by smoking, according to the CDC, with about 500,000 dying each year as a result.

“Too many Americans are harmed by cigarette smoking, which is the nation’s leading preventable cause of death and disease,” Fitzgerald said in a statement.last November. She added that she’ll “continue to use proven strategies to help smokers quit and to prevent children from using any tobacco products.”