CDC Director’s Tobacco Stock Purchase Raises Ethical Concerns

Ari Reyes, Social Media/Web Editor

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On Jan. 31, Brenda Fitzgerald, the director of the CDC, resigned after it was reported that she had bought shares within the tobacco industry.

She expressed that she was sad about resigning but knew that it was what she had to do because it was interfering with specific goals the CDC is currently working towards. The stocks were bought a month after she become director, despite her knowledge that one of the main priorities of the CDC is preventing the use of tobacco products and limiting smoking. However, Fitzgerald claimed to have no knowledge of the purchase because the shares were purchased through a “separate entity” hired by her investment manager.

The fact that the CDC director, only a month after being promoted, had allegedly unknowingly bought shares within a tobacco company is baffling. Fitzgerald must have known something about it before she went public with the information.

Trying to sell her shares before resigning was the right thing to do in her case, however I feel that she should have came clean with her supervisors and coworkers when she found out what was going on. On the other hand, I do understand she was trying to resolve the situation before it became a controversial issue.

The situation as a whole was completely unethical due to the fact that one of the CDC’s main priorities right now is to find a way to stop the use of tobacco products. The fact that their director bought these shares within the tobacco industry contradicts all the work they are doing to try and stop the use of tobacco products. Through the purchase of these specific shares, Fitzgerald was also promoting the tobacco industry, and in a way she was contributing to the making of the harmful products the CDC opposes. However, her claim that she did not know that these shares were purchased on her behalf suggests that she was not aware of the support she was giving the companies.

By Fitzgerald and her husband having an investment manager hiring people to invest their money into shares, she would not have the knowledge of every share that she was involved in. The investment manager had free reign over where the money could be invested to, possibly leading to the answer of why her money was invested into a stock she did not want to be affiliated with.

However, in a way she brought the situation on to herself by trusting her money with another person and not knowing exactly where this person was putting it. In doing so Fitzgerald affected her career and possible future career opportunities because there was no real reason as to why her money should have been invested into those shares.

In closing, the entire issue is unethical, and Fitzgerald should have been more careful in how and where her money was going in order to protect herself and the organization she was working for.