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The fish rots from the head down. And boy, are things smelling extra-pungent at the U.S. Interior Department.
The book-cooking, brass-knuckle antics of President Obama’s loathsome cowboy, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, have been meticulously documented on this blog, in my columns, and in Culture of Corruption. Salazar made headlines most recently with his thug threat to punch a Colorado Springs Gazette reporter for asking tough questions about his wild horses policy. The Interior Department’s inspector general, Mary Kendall, is herself under investigation for conflict of interest. Stonewalling and job-killing are the order of the day.
And now there’s this: The Interior Department’s Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs, Tony Babauta, has been placed on administrative leave — reportedly over travel and grant irregularities.
The news trickled out over the Thanksgiving holiday:
Guam -The Interior Department’s Deputy Director of Communications, Blake Androff has issued the following statement confirming an investigation concerning Assistant Secretary for Insular Affairs, Tony Babauta.
READ Androff’s statement below:
The Interior Department’s Inspector General is currently conducting an investigation concerning the Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas.
While the Department has not reached any conclusions, the Assistant Secretary has been placed on administrative leave pending the investigation.
Eileen Sobeck has been named Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas and will lead the Insular Affairs team during this period. She previously served as Interior’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks.
Deputy Director of Communications
U.S. Department of the Interior
Details from the Saipan Tribune (I know. Why do we have to get this info from the Saipan Tribune, right?):
Babauta is currently the highest ranking native Pacific Islander serving in the U.S. government. He is the first person of Marianas/Micronesian descent appointed by a U.S. President, the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs website says.
His office has oversight over U.S. insular areas such as the CNMI, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico.
…[Guam delegate] Bordallo, in a separate statement yesterday, said she is “aware of the ongoing Department of Interior Inspector General review of travel in the Office of Insular Affairs as well as the review of a specific grant that was awarded by the office.”
She said the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee is aware of this ongoing process and of the allegations.
“There are not a lot of details right now and it would be inappropriate to comment on specific allegations until they have been fully reviewed and reported on by the IG. The Department of the Interior is following a well established process for IG reviews. I respect this process and look forward to receiving the full IG report when it is completed,” Bordallo said.
…“I have confidence in his integrity and in the work he has performed as the Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas. He has used his expertise on insular issues to fully engage leaders from across the Pacific and in the Caribbean. Our islands are better positioned because of his leadership. I believe that he has always exercised sound decision making and I hope this will be reflected in the IG results,” Bordallo said.
Other sources said the investigation could be more than travel spending and procurement.
Takeaway quote from Babauta, August 2012, who commented at the time on a taxpayer abuse scandal involving stimulus cronyism:
“Public corruption is intolerable.”
Do as they say…