Why He Matters
Babauta is resigning from his post at the Interior department, effective Feb. 1, 2013. The Interior Department’s inspector general reportedly was looking into Babauta’s travels as well as grants awarded by his office. Babauta’s job is being filled by Eileen Sobeck, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas.
As the head of Interior's Office of Insular Affairs (OIA), Babauta oversees the interests of citizens in the American territories including Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Marshall Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands and the Federated States of Micronesia and Palau. The assistant secretary position was reinstated after being inactive since 1995.
Babauta is the first Pacific Islander to hold the assistant secretary position and the reaction to his appointment was overwhelmingly positive.