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CDC Director Resigns After Financial Conflicts of Interest Come to Light

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Brenda Fitzgerald, resigned Wednesday after financial conflicts of interest surfaced involving her investment in tobacco companies.

Reports published Tuesday by Politico showed that Brenda Fitzgerald invested in tobacco companies' stock while heading the CDC. According to the CDC, smoking tobacco is the leading preventable cause of death in the United States, causing about one in every five deaths. The CDC is tasked with spearheading the fight against tobacco use in the U.S.

The Department of Health and Human Services spokesman, Matt Lloyd, released a statement addressing Fitzgerald's resignation and the impact that these "complex financial interests" have on her ability to continue her role as the CDC director.

"Due to the nature of these financial interests, Fitzgerald could not divest from them in a definitive time period," Lloyd said in the statement, referring to the legal obligations associated with the investments.

Upon accepting her position as director in July, Fitzgerald sold other investments she had in pharmaceutical stock; however, the Politico report included documents showing Fitzgerald purchased shares in global tobacco company Japan Tobacco in August.