CDC=Can’t Deny Conflict


Leonard Zwelling

Brenda Fitzgerald was the Trump appointed director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Her new boss of three days, Alex Azar, made the announcement of her resignation. It seems that Dr. Fitzgerald had purchased a host of tobacco and drug company stocks that put her in an untenable conflict with performing her job. Why she couldn’t just divest it all is beyond me, but it may have been reduced in value since her purchase, although that is hard to believe in this market environment.

Rather it seems that it is just another example of the conflicts of interest that seem to beset the Trump Administration along with other bad behavior like the free airplane rides taken by the man who appointed Dr. Fitzgerald, Dr. Tom Price, former head of HHS.

(Last week on The Rachel Maddow Show, the host listed the number of people who have already left the Trump Administration. It had to be over 50).

It is reasonable to assume that there may well be conflicts involving the president himself if he is beholden to Russian banking interests, as is likely the case. Why else not release your taxes and why try to obstruct the investigation by the independent counsel looking into the Russian attempts to hijack our election and their likely attempt to do it again later this year?

Some folks think that the Republican backing for Mr. Trump in the House is just politics as usual. I don’t. My guess is that all those GOP House members who have decided not to run in fear of both challenges from the right and Democrats on their left and the transparency that might be demanded of all politicians once Mr. Mueller unearths what has been going on at the highest levels of government has scared the heck out of these ne’er-do-wells.

We, the People, are a bit stuck right now. We don’t know what to believe and that includes the president and certainly the members of Congress.

I am not sure what motivates these folks to do what they do and to think that they can get away with it. Perhaps is that so many of them do get away with it and suffer no consequences.

It is beyond amusing that the Trump Administration is finding it so hard to find qualified people to fill the various government jobs that require some effort. Mr. Trump still has no ambassador in South Korea and that’s but one of hundreds of positions left unfilled, especially in the State Department.

There is little doubt that Mr. Trump was not ready to be president and has done a poor job to date despite the 35-40% of Americans who still support him. I have written about why the latter is the case. People still believe he will do as he said he would during the campaign. But I don’t see Mexico writing any checks to the United States to pay for the Wall and Congress may or may not appropriate the money to build it.

Perhaps the jaded will say that it has always been this way. Politicians are crooked and are on the take. Conflicts of interest are nothing new and the entire government is rife with it. They might say that we are just looking more for it. Perhaps. But the bar has been raised on acceptable conduct or at least many are trying to raise it. For that we can thank Mr. Trump and his uncanny ability to lower it.

I don’t see why the CDC Director couldn’t have fixed this, but then again I don’t know the details. If she was qualified, this is most unfortunate. If she was not, as this episode tends to suggest, let’s hope her resignation serves as a warning to others.

The only good conflict of interest is no conflict at all.

Leonard Zwelling