Guam – The Deputy Director of Communications for the U.S. Department of the Interior, Blake Androff, has confirmed for PNC News that the Interior Department’s Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs Tony Babauta has resigned.
In a one sentence response to a Friday emailed inquiry from PNC, Androff wrote:
” Secretary Salazar has received Assistant Secretary Tony Babauta’s letter of resignation, effective February 1, 2013.”
Babauta also submitted a separate resignation letter to President Oabama.
Adroff did not respond to the other questions we posed to him.
In particular, he did not answer the question of whether or not the investigation into alleged abuses by Babauta of travel expenses and grant awards has been completed and, if so, whether or not that investigation has cleared Babauta of any wrong doing.
In an email response to the same questions, Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo’s Press Secretary, Kelly Toves, only wrote: “Our office has not received updated information regarding the ongoing investigation.”
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar placed Babauta on administrative leave last November when the investigation into the allegations against him was launched. Eileen Sobeck has been serving as Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas.
Babauta is a native of Guam. The position of Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs at the Department of Interior is the highest Federal Government post ever attained by a Chamorro.
Babauta did not respond to either an email, or telephone message left for him by PNC News Friday.
University of Guam President Dr. Robert Underwood is off island and has been unavailable for comment. On January 16th Dr. Underwood met with 2 investigators from the Department of Interior’s Inspector General Office who, he said, asked him about grants UOG had received from the Interior Department.
Governor Calvo was also interviewed by the Inspector General investigators. Governor’s Spokesman Troy Torres told PNC News Friday that Adelup was not aware of Babauta’s resignation or the status of the investigation.
PNC’s Washington Correspondent Matt Kaye has reported that the investigation is focusing on whether Babauta took extended travel time on Guam, and whether or not Babauta inappropriately steered at least one Interior grant to the University of Guam.
Sources told Kaye that the Interior IG investigators have interviewed Babauta and that Babauta has maintained that he has done nothing wrong.