Babauta's Resignation Stirs Controversy from Washington to the Islands

January 30, 2013

The Washington Post covered the U.S. Department of Interior's Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs Tony Babauta's resignation, with the headline, "Obama appointee Tony Babauta resigns." The story emphasizes the investigation of "official travel and other conduct."

From the Post:
His attorney responded to the Loop’s request for comment by sending his client’s resignation letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, in which Babauta defended his record, saying he thought he had “improved” the office he ran and that his work had “benefitted my island brothers and sisters.”
A January 25, 2013 letter from U.S. House Delegates Bordallo (Guam), Sablan (CNMI) and Christensen (Virgin Islands) sent to U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar suggests that Tony Babauta's investigation should be glossed over. It outlined the contributions of the assistant secretary and then concluded:
"Mr. Secretary, in light of Assistant Secretary Babauta's great service to the nation and the Administration, the public awareness of the ongoing process has raised questions, yet we hope that the conclusion of this matter will be on a positive note, recognizing his contributions. 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.
Read the entire letter:

Referring to the investigation, the letter states that the delegates "respect this process, and your due diligence."  However, the letter also contains concluding contradictory statements that suggest that the delegates want to influence the process. Statements such as "only appreciative comments should be made and "we hope that the conclusion of this matter will be on a positive note recognizing his contributions."

The content of the letter suggests that the delegates were made aware of negative findings in the investigation. Are the delegates suggesting that the outcome of the investigation be kept a secret if it is not favorable to Babauta so that he can be remembered for his contributions rather than being held accountable for any improprieties, however large or small?

Few investigations are initiated without merit or questions. Don't tax payers have a right to know the outcome of any federal investigation?

The delegates appear to know something that the public does not yet know. What is disturbing is that the letter implies that the delegates are appealing to Secretary Salazar to cover up any negative results of the investigation. I would hope that members of the U.S. Congress and cabinet members would support open government.

A January 28, 2013, KSPN News report stated that interior officials have not revealed the outcome of the investigation. Matt Kaye said, "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."

The public has a right to know the outcome of the investigation, whether it is favorable or unfavorable to Tony Babauta. The results of the investigation should be made public so individuals can decide for themselves the merits of the investigation and its conclusion.

More from The Washington Post here.
From The Hill here.


Anonymous said...

Well, well. A cover up in the Obama administration? You've got to be joking! They are indeed ordering officials to "gloss over" wrongdoings. Obama is in until 2016 so it really doesn't matter does it.

Anonymous said...

Not much different than what goes on in the CNMI and Guam politics.

Anonymous said...

You're right. Whether Babauta violated the law or violated DOI policies, the results of the investigation have to be made public. Not sure why anyone would sign a letter like this to Salazar. People who pay these guys' salaries deserve full disclosure, nothing less!

Anonymous said...

If the IG doesn’t release a complete and transparent report expect open government requests to be forthcoming. The letter from the delegates just makes the whole situation more seedy and suspicious.

Sablan says he ‘doesn’t think he did anything criminal or he would have been arrested.” That’s a crazy statement too. Lots of people get away with criminal acts. LOTS! Look around!

And it doesn’t matter what he ‘thinks’ anyway. It’s what happened and what the investigation found that counts. Won’t those delegates look silly if the IG reveals that there actually were criminal acts or a terrible waste of tax dollars? Is protecting one of their own more important than exposing the report and truth? They should be calling for a total release of the findings. Such a bad move on their part.

Anonymous said...

jeez people we are not "entitled" to everything..... what is with this attitude. Don't expect to read the final reports nor should you be allowed. some of you are no better than vouyers.....same people who make sure everyone sees them in the front row of church Sunday morning and off to their girlfriends house while the wife handles the kids....Babauta resigned, if there is any other info leading to crimnal activity on the part of others employed in DOI then those leads will be pursued. hearing there will be a very close scrutiny on all DOI/Ombuds activities in Guam and the CNMI to be undertaken soon. talk is going round that records and interviews are going to be conducted.

Anonymous said...

No federal investigation is going to be kept a secret! The Office of the Inspector General will have to release the completed report to the public. It is the law.

Anonymous said...

7:28 Forgot to say that a federally funded investigation such as this one is public record. It does not matter whether Babauta was engaged in criminal acts or misused federal funds. Whatever he did, no matter how big or how small, the full report must be available to the public. The IG report on ARRA was public. What's with the attempts to conceal and coverup in this case? It's the right of those who fund his position to know the outcome of this investigation. We're not voyeurs, we're taxpayers. Tell you what, if a report isn't out after the investigation is complete, I'll file a formal OGA request and release it for you.

Anonymous said...

be clear on the point that if you live and work in the CNMI you are not a taxpayer funding the federal government....lest you forgot..

Wendy Doromal said...

Anonymous 6:11

Many people who comment here are from the mainland. IP addresses include, Washington, DC, California, Massachusetts, NY, Ohio, Washington, Idaho, Oregon, Florida and other states. I am a taxpayer and so are others who comment on this site. Even if the commenters do not pay taxes, they have a right to open government. Ditto for the disenfranchised foreign workers.