Climate Deniers and Tobacco: A Love Story (continued)

January 31, 2018


They can’t help themselves.


The Trump administration’s top public health official bought shares in a tobacco company one month into her leadership of the agency charged with reducing tobacco use — the leading cause of preventable disease and death and an issue she had long championed.

The stock was one of about a dozen new investments that Brenda Fitzgerald, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, made after she took over the agency’s top job, according to documents obtained by POLITICO. Fitzgerald has since come under congressional scrutiny for slow walking divestment from older holdings that government officials said posed potential conflicts of interest.

Update: Brenda Fitzgerald has resigned today following publication of this story by Politico.

Buying shares of tobacco companies raises even more flags than Fitzgerald’s trading in drug and food companies because it stands in such stark contrast to the CDC’s mission to persuade smokers to quit and keep children from becoming addicted. Critics say her trading behavior broke with ethical norms for public health officials and was, at best, sloppy. At worst, they say, it was legally problematic if she didn’t recuse herself from government activities that could have affected her investments.

“You don’t buy tobacco stocks when you are the head of the CDC. It’s ridiculous; it gives a terrible appearance,” said Richard Painter, who served as George W. Bush’s chief ethics lawyer from 2005 to 2007. He described the move as “tone deaf,” given the CDC’s role in leading anti-smoking efforts.

Even if Fitzgerald, a medical doctor and former Georgia Department of Public Health commissioner, met all of the legal requirements, “it stinks to high heaven,” Painter said.

I’ve profiled many times the intertwined history of tobacco denial and climate denial.


5 Responses to “Climate Deniers and Tobacco: A Love Story (continued)”

  1. dumboldguy Says:

    Dang!—–I’m only half way through “Horsemen of the Trumpocalypse” because it makes you throw up to read more than 15 or 20 pages at a sitting, and a bunch of the “horsepeople” described in the book have resigned from the kleptocracy-kakistocracy. How many more will resign before I finish the book?

    And I have to say JFC to the idea that the head of the CDC is buying tobacco stocks—and she’s an MD?—-she must have been one of the 50% of doctors that graduated in the bottom half of her class. (that’s Ron Voisin math))

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: