Trump's CDC Director Resigns After Getting Caught Buying Shares in Tobacco Company

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The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stepped down from her position amid reports she purchased stock in a tobacco company while leading the agency.

HHS released a statement noting the resignation was accepted Wednesday morning.

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. Patty Murray said Fitzgerald's ability to do her job was hindered by "ongoing conflicts of interest".

An HHS spokesman told the news outlet that the stock purchases were made by Fitzgerald's financial manager and that she later divested.

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Fitzgerald became director of the CDC in July, bought stock in Japan Tobacco in August 2017, and sold it at the end of October. Seen in that broader context, Fitzgerald's appointment and her brief, ineffective tenure is just a symptom of a gravely serious ethical disease afflicting this administration. A statement from the Department of Health and Human Services made no mention of Fitzgerald's investment in Japan Tobacco, which sells several brands of cigarettes in the US, including Winston and Camel.

Fitzgerald had already drawn Congressional ire for not divesting financial ties to other companies representing potential conflicts of interest.

The Washington Post reported that Anne Schuchat, a CDC veteran and the agency's principal deputy director, will serve as an acting replacement until a permanent successor can be named. The purchases totaled tens of thousands of dollars and included investment in one of the largest tobacco companies in the world.

U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro, ranking Democrat on the House appropriations subcommittee responsible for CDC funding, said Fitzgerald´s resignation "follows the pattern of Trump´s appointees, who put their own personal and financial interests ahead of the American people's".