A Department of Interior official whose official travel and other conduct was being investigated has resigned.
Tony Babauta, the Assistant Interior Secretary for Insular Areas, is leaving the agency Feb. 1, a spokesman tells the Loop, though Babauta has been on administrative leave since Nov. 17 while the investigation was pending.
President Obama named Babauta, a native of Guam, to the position in 2009. He was tasked with overseeing U.S. territories including Guam, American Samoa, and the Northern Mariana Islands.
The Interior Department’s inspector general reportedly was looking into Babauta’s travels as well as grants awarded by his office.
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.”
He also urged Salazar to maintain the practice of having a presidential appointee serve in the position he was vacating. Before he was named to the job, a “lower-level” official had run the Insular Affairs office, he noted.
Babauta’s job is being filled by Eileen Sobeck, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas.