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CDC director quits following report she bought tobacco stocks

NBC News logo NBC News 1/31/2018 Corky Siemaszko
Brenda FitzgeraldCenters for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald at the agency's headquarters in Atlanta on Dec. 5, 2017. © Provided by NBCU News Group, a division of NBCUniversal Media LLC Brenda FitzgeraldCenters for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald at the agency's headquarters in Atlanta on Dec. 5, 2017.

Tobacco claimed another victim Wednesday — President Donald Trump's pick to head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald tendered her resignation following a Politico report that she "bought shares in a tobacco company one month into the leadership of the agency."

"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," the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said in a statement. "Due to the nature of these financial interests, Dr. Fitzgerald could not divest from them in a definitive time period."

So Fitzgerald tendered her resignation, the HHS statement read.

There was no additional comment from Fitzgerald, who is a doctor and the former Georgia Department of Public Health commissioner.

Fitzgerald also declined to explain to Politico why she purchased thousands of dollars of Big Tobacco stocks after assuming leadership of the CDC on July 7.

The CDC has for years made fighting smoking a priority and critics like Richard Painter, who was President George W. Bush's ethics lawyers from 2005 to 2007, told Politico that Fitzgerald's purchases were "tone deaf" and "ridiculous."

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