The following statement can be attributed to Cynthia A. Pearson, Executive Director of the National Women’s Health Network.
Washington, D.C. - Over the last year, the Trump Administration has repeatedly appointed unqualified individuals with conflicts of interest to key public health posts. The latest example of this backfiring is Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director, Brenda Fitzgerald, MD who resigned today just one day after reports that she purchased tobacco stocks after assuming her position as Director of the CDC.
Appointing people whose actions are not consistent with the mission of the agency they lead is appalling. Purchasing stock in a tobacco company undermines the credibility of a public official who has to communicate the important public health message that tobacco is the number one preventable cause of disease. Furthermore, it indicates a public official is willing to put their personal profit above the mission of the agency they lead. There’s a reason why we call working for the government “public service” – it’s meant to denote a commitment to doing what’s right for the public, not what’s best for your pocketbook.
It is important to note that Brenda Fitzgerald has been under fire before for not divesting from older holdings she invested in before she held her position at CDC. She has been invited to testify before Congress at least four times and has been unable to do so because of her conflicts of interest. This is what happens when Trump and Pence are given free hand to pick people without any consideration to their personal financial conflicts of interest.
The public is suffering because yet again conflicts of interest plague the Trump Administration – this time leaving the CDC without a director in the middle of an unusually dangerous flu season. The Trump Administration is ultimately responsible to the people and must be held accountable for whom they appoint. Appointing those with conflicts of interests, who later must step down, is reckless and endangers the people they serve.
The National Women’s Health Network is supported by our members and by choice we do not accept financial support from drug companies or medical device manufacturers. We bring the voices, concerns and needs of women consumers to policy and regulatory tables.
Cindy Pearson was the NWHN’s Executive Director from 1996 to 2021. One of the nation's leading advocates for women's health, Cindy often testified before Congress, NIH and the FDA and was frequently featured in the news as a consumer expert on women’s health issues. When she retired, Cindy received a Congressional Resolution in honor of her outstanding contributions to the health of women and girls.