Navy Secretary Ray Mabus forced the resignation Tuesday of his top civilian advisor over allegations of sexual misconduct with a subordinate, Pentagon sources said.
Mabus asked for the resignation of Robert Martinage, who has been serving as undersecretary of the Navy since last June, “following a loss of confidence in Martinage's abilities to effectively perform his duties,” Mabus’ office said in a statement.
Martinage was leaving while the nomination of a permanent successor to the position was still in doubt. The nomination of Jo Ann Rooney to become undersecretary was facing opposition from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and others on the issue of sexual assaults in the military.
As acting undersecretary, Martinage reported directly to Mabus and the Navy’s four assistant secretaries reported to him.
Mabus’ action, first reported by Defense News, came after allegations surfaced that Martinage had engaged in inapproriate conduct with a woman who worked for him, the Pentagon sources said. Navy officials either declined comment or did not respond to questions on the woman’s employment status and the nature of the inappropriate conduct.
The departure of Martinage, a product of academia and the think tanks, added to the disarray and bureaucratic portfolio switching in the civilian top policy and management positions in the Navy.
The statement from Mabus’ office said that Thomas W. Hicks, currently deputy undersecretary of the Navy and deputy chief management officer, will take over the acting post of undersecretary “until a new undersecretary is confirmed or until further notice, whichever comes first.”
Martinage, the Deputy Under Secretary of the Navy (DUSN)/ Policy, Plans, Oversight, and Integration (PPO&I), had also been serving as acting Under Secretary since last June when Robert Work resigned to take a post with the Center For a New American Security think tank.
The Mabus’ statement also said that Jodi Greene, senior director for policy in the office of DUSN (PPO&I), has been appointed acting DUSN (PPO&I).
Martinage had been holding the acting undersecretary’s post while waiting for the confirmation of Jo Ann Rooney by the Senate to be the new undersecreatry.
What had been expected to be the routine confirmation of Rooney’s nomination last October to the underecretary’s post ran into a firestorm of criticism from Gillibrand and others when Rooney defended the role of commanders in the disposition of sexual assault cases.
Rooney, who has been serving since June 2011 as the Navy’s principal deputy defense undersecretary for Personnel and Readiness, made clear her opposition to Gillibrand’s proposed legislation that would take commanders out of the chain of command in sexual assault cases.
Last week, the Senate Armed Services Committee approved Rooney’s nomination, but it was unclear when the full Senate would vote on her confirmation. Gillibrand was maintaining her opposition, meaning that Rooney would need 60 votes on the Senate floor for confirmation.