Guam Delegate Madeleine Bordallo, CNMI Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan, and U.S. Virgin Islands Delegate Donna M. Christensen have expressed hope that the conclusion of the investigation into former deputy assistant secretary for insular affairs Anthony “Tony” M. Babauta “be on a positive note, recognizing his contributions.”
The three delegates wrote the letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar on Jan. 25, a day after Babauta handed in his resignation letter to President Barack Obama.
Babauta's resignation is effective Feb. 1, 2013.
“We and others very much want him to continue in office but, if he concludes that it 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,” Bordallo, Sablan, and Christensen told Salazar in their two-page letter.
Babauta himself told Salazar in his Jan. 24 letter that he believes his work “improved the Office of Insular Affairs.”
Babauta, a native of Guam, resigned some two months after being placed on administrative leave in November when federal investigators started reviewing his travel and a still unspecified grant that his office awarded. His letters didn't cite a specific reason for his resignation.
OIA Director Nik Pula, in an interview Wednesday last week, said it may take awhile before a permanent replacement for Babauta is named.
He said Eileen Sobeck will fill the post left by Babauta in an acting capacity.
“I'm personally happy for assistant secretary Babauta. I know he knows what's best for him in terms of his decisions. It was a joy for me to serve with him in the last four years and I know he has resigned and as far as our office is concerned, we have to wait and see what the department does with his position,” Pula told Saipan Tribune.
Pula and Sobeck were on island along with U.S. Department of Health and Human Services officials, mainly to check on issues related to the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. They also attended Sablan's ceremonial swearing in on Wednesday.
Babauta was among the highest ranking native Pacific Islander serving in the U.S. government. His office has oversight over U.S. insular areas such as the CNMI, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.