President Trump's director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention resigned Wednesday after a report that she was trading in tobacco company investments.
Brenda Fitzgerald "owns certain complex financial interests" that complicated her work as CDC director, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) spokesman Matt Lloyd said in a statement. She could not divest in a timely manner, he said.
Those interests especially conflicted with Fitzgerald's work leading efforts to convince people to stop smoking. Politico reported Tuesday that Fitzgerald bought shares in a tobacco company one month after she became the top public health official tasked with the job of reducing the top cause of preventable disease.
HHS Secretary Alex Azar accepted her resignation after she advised him of "both the status of the financial interests and the scope of her recusal," Lloyd said.
Azar replaced former former Rep. Tom Price, another Georgia Republican, as HHS secretary after a Politico report on Price's extensive use of pricey government jets for official travel. That followed widespread news reports of Price's own extensive stock trading and investments in health-related companies.
As Georgia's health secretary, Politico reported, Fitzgerald owned shares in five tobacco companies — Reynolds American, British American Tobacco, Imperial Brands, Philip Morris International, and Altria Group Inc.
Fitzgerald had been in the job since July.
Contributing: Associated Press