To those who argue Donald Trump has no loyalty or that he’s a political neophyte, here’s further proof that you’re wrong.
Without much fanfare, the Trump administration on Friday announced the appointment of Brenda Fitzgerald, 70, to head the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The federal agency’s stated role is disease prevention and improvement of public health.
Fitzgerald is an obstetrician who served as commissioner of the Department of Public Health in the state of Georgia, the second-fattest state in the one of the fattest nations in the world. During her tenure at the department (2011 to 2017), her signature project to tackle childhood obesity was underwritten by Coca-Cola, the sugary beverage tied to childhood obesity and diabetes.
It all makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? Well, it does when you consider this: Coca-Cola is headquartered in Georgia; the company has an ethically questionable history of marketing its products to kids; political pressure has grown to keep sugary beverages out of schools and away from children; and, therefore, the company is trying to align itself scientifically, financially and politically with persons and groups that won’t threaten the company’s bottom line.
Case in point: Did you ever stop to wonder who funds presidential Inauguration Day festivities, such as the inaugural ball? Apparently, much of the funding for comes from individual and corporate donations. President Trump’s inaugural fundraising committee gathered a record $90 million. The list of donors is usually publicized the day of the events. But the Trump administration broke with tradition and withheld the information. Still, donations have to be disclosed to the Federal Election Commission, which has since released some of the details.
It turns out that one of the top donors for Trump’s Inauguration Day festivities was Coca-Cola, though the exact amount it provided is unclear. A company spokesman told The Wall Street Journal the beverage giant made a donation that was “in line” with the $430,000 it gave toward Obama’s 2013 event. To put this into perspective, top (known) donor Boeing provided $1.1 million, Chevron $500,000, Verizon $100,000 and Walmart $150,000. AT&T, Bank of America, Deloit and JPMorgan also made donations of “undisclosed” amount, according to marketing journal Advertising Age.
Coca-Cola also provided generous political donations during the 2016 election cycle. Its PAC, called The Coca-Cola Company Nonpartisan Committee for Good Government raised over $1 million for federal candidates, of which 43% went to Democrats and 57% to Republicans.
To call it “donations” is quite disingenuous. A donation implies that something is given altruistically, with no expectation of something in return. High dollar political donations and contributions should be called by their proper name: investments. Trump knows the game well and played it for decades from the “business donor” side of board, providing fat checks to both parties with the expectation that it would ensure government didn’t get in the way of his business interests. And with his appointment of Fitzgerald, it appears he knows how to play the game from the “political scumbag” side of the board as well.
To be fair and to further illustrate the gravity of the problem, it must be said that Fitzgerald isn’t the first member of the CDC with ties to Coca-Cola, and probably won’t be the last.
HuffPo: In June , Dr. Barbara Bowman, a high-ranking official within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, unexpectedly departed the agency, two days after information came to light indicating that she had been communicating regularly with – and offering guidance to – a leading Coca-Cola advocate seeking to influence world health authorities on sugar and beverage policy matters.
Now, more emails suggest that another veteran CDC official has similarly close ties to the global soft drink giant. Michael Pratt, Senior Advisor for Global Health in the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the CDC, has a history of promoting and helping lead research funded by Coca-Cola. Pratt also works closely with the nonprofit corporate interest group set up by Coca-Cola called the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), emails obtained through Freedom of Information requests show.
Pratt did not respond to questions about his work, which includes a position as a professor at Emory University, a private research university in Atlanta that has received millions of dollars from the Coca-Cola Foundation and more than $100 million from famed longtime Coca-Cola leader Robert W. Woodruff and Woodruff’s brother George. Indeed, Coca-Cola’s financial support for Emory is so strong that the university states on its website that “it’s unofficially considered poor school spirit to drink other soda brands on campus.”
CDC spokeswoman Kathy Harben said Pratt had been on a “temporary assignment” to Emory University but his work at Emory “is completed and he is now back on staff at CDC.” […]