CDC will reduce director Robert Redfield's $375,000 salary

Key Points
  • Centers for Disease Control Director Dr. Robert Redfield agreed to a reduction in his $375,000 salary.
  • Redfield's salary was much higher than his predecessors.
  • The New York Times reported Redfield made a higher salary figure than his boss, HHS Secretary Alex Azar.
Dr. Robert Redfield
Tracey Brown | University of Maryland School of Medicine via AP

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will cut its director's $375,000 salary, after a raft of complaints and media reports that he was being paid much more than his predecessors.

The director, Dr. Robert Redfield, enjoyed a significantly higher salary than his predecessor, Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald, whose was paid $197,300 a year, The New York Times reported Monday.

Redfield was able to secure the higher pay through a provision allowing more lucrative salary packages to lure scientists with specialized skill sets, the Times reported.

The HIV/AIDS researcher was reportedly paid more than his boss, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who earns less than $200,000 a year.

Redfield told Secretary Azar that he didn't want his compensation to become a distraction, a spokeswoman for Health and Human Services told CNBC. "Therefore, consistent with Dr. Redfield's request, his compensation will be adjusted accordingly," the spokeswoman said.

Fitzgerald, who was an OB-GYN before accepting the role of CDC director, apparently did not make use of the special salary dispensation.

Numerous Democratic lawmakers and watchdog groups had filed complaints and inquiries about Redfield's salary, news outlets have reported.

Caitlin Oakley, a spokeswoman for HHS, told CNBC in a statement that Redfield's appointment was "a rare opportunity to hire one of the world's leading virologists."

"The selection of Dr. Redfield was the right choice at the right time for the right purpose. Dr. Redfield is someone who understands this work from all of these perspectives and has firsthand knowledge of what researchers and practitioners need to keep the American people safe at home and abroad," Oakley said.