Just Plain Dumb

Until two weeks ago, Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., was the Trump administration’s director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the CDC). She is an ob/gyn, rose to the rank of major in the Air Force, worked in private practice, and came to the Trump administration after five years in Georgia’s state government, including as commissioner of the state’s Department of Health.

In other words, she’s no dummy.

Like a lot of people who’ve made some money in life, Dr. Fitzgerald has some investments, and when she took office she sold off stocks in pharmaceutical and tobacco companies. That seems reasonable.

But then, just a month after taking the job as head of the CDC, Dr. Fitzgerald bought stock in Japan Tobacco – a tobacco company.

The CDC, of course, is about not just disease control but also about disease prevention, and if this country was limited to just one disease prevention effort, it would be encouraging people to stop smoking.

So what in the world was Dr. Fitzgerald doing investing in a tobacco company?

A lot of people started asking that question and eventually, the questioning culminated in her resignation when people realized that the country’s top official in the fight against smoking cigarettes had a financial interest in increasing, not decreasing, cigarette smoking.

Her job was to discourage people from smoking these, not to profit when they do

The critics accused her of having a conflict of interest.

The Curmudgeon thinks that’s ridiculous: if she hadn’t done the decent thing and resigned she should have been fired for sheer stupidity – not for conflict of interest.

What could she possibly have been thinking?


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