Washington D.C. – Tony Babauta’s resignation last week as the highest ranking Chamorro ever to serve in the Federal Government did not come without warning, or an attempt by the Territorial Delegates to soften the blow.
Tony Babauta submitted his resignation as the first Guam native ever to serve as Interior Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs, the delegates for Guam, CNMI and the Virgin Islands prepared a letter to Secretary Ken Salazar.
The January 25th letter reads in part, “We and others very much want him to continue in office, but if he concludes that is untenable and he should move on, his decision should be implemented in a mutually satisfactory, considerate, and beneficial manner, and only appreciative comments should be made.”
HEAR Matt Kaye’s report HERE>>>01-28 lettersenttosalazar.mp3
Babauta has maintained his innocence, according to former associates, against charges he took extended travel time on Guam and may have inappropriately steered a grant to the University of Guam.
But with an Inspector General probe wrapping up, or possibly finished, Babauta resigned, submitting letters dated last Thursday to President Obama, who nominated him, and Secretary Salazar, thanking them for the chance to serve, for restoring the post of Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas and citing what he called, his “storied career of public service” and extensive work to improve the lives of islanders.
But Interior officials have so far refused to disclose the findings of the IG Investigation or say if it’s formally done. They have only confirmed the resignation, effective this coming Friday.
Sources usually willing to talk on background about the case have gone ‘silent,’ though one Congressional source said if Babauta had been cleared, word would have spread quickly.
OIA Director Nik Pula, contacted last Friday on his way to Hawaii and then Guam and the CNMI, said he’d check on the status of the investigation and get back, but never did.
Others knowledgeable about the process, speculated Babauta may have resigned only if he was assured the report findings would not be made public, or had no conclusion of ethical lapses.
Babauta did not respond to e-mail or telephone messages last week. And it remains uncertain when or if the public will ever know the findings of the IG investigation.
But it’s now clear, the Delegates knew of his forthcoming plight, thought highly of him and his many contributions to the islands and wanted to help him, as best as they could.
“Mr. Secretary,” they wrote Ken Salazar on January 25th, “in light of Assistant Secretary Babauta’s great service to the nation, and the Administration we hope that the conclusion of this matter will be on a positive note, recognizing his contributions.”