Senator Regine Biscoe Lee has signed off on a decision by the Guam Legislature's Committee on Ethics and standards to dismiss a complaint against Senator Fernando Barcinas Esteves resulting from a Sep. 23rd demonstration at the main gate of Andersen Air Force Base.
Following that incident, Guam resident and Vietnam veteran Barry Mead filed an official ethics complaint with the Guam Legislature against Senator, who serves as chair of the body's Committee on Ethics, based on his actions.
According to Mead's complaint, addressed to Guam Legislature Speaker Benjamin J. F. Cruz, and then referred to the Ethics Committee, chaired by Senator Esteves, his actions during the protest against the planned Northwest Field firing range "flagrantly" violated the terms of his oath of office.
Mead responded to the dismissal angrily, promising to oppose Senator Lee and others when they seek re-election: "Are you people that blind or so inept to police yourselves or is it because it deals with a Chamorro activist and filed by a non-indigenous Guamanian?"
Esteves offered comment on the committee decision:
“I appreciate that the committee has dismissed the complaint filed against me on Oct. 12, 2017 and determined that it does not warrant further investigation or action by the committee. I want to thank the committee members for their hard work during this difficult process. It is no easy task to screen and deliberate such a matter, but this process is imperative in keeping leaders accountable. The ethics process is important to catch issues existing in the gray area before it crosses the line. And I respect the complainant's right to express his dissatisfaction.
"In my career as a leader serving in many capacities I follow the same principles. I take every opportunity to reflect on all things I’ve done, all things I’ve failed to do, all things I’ve done right, and all things I’ve done wrong. I take every moment as an opportunity to learn, grow, improve, and most importantly share with others what I’ve learned. I am not above admitting my faults. The events of that day and the success in bringing preservation issues back to the forefront could have been accomplished without the comments I made."
Estevez also apologized for his comments to Brigadier General Douglas Cox, and vowed to convey his personal apology in an official letter.
"I will always fight for the indigenous human rights of the Chamorro people, and I will always fight for people of Guam. My resolve will not be broken, but I must be responsible in my use of free speech to not use it to make personal attacks. There have been questions regarding the inquiry with the Guam Army National Guard. I want the public to know that this internal personnel matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of myself and the leadership. I am glad to put these matters behind me and to continue my work in implementing the people’s agenda," the senator said.
Due to the conflict of interest posed by Esteves' chairmanship, Vice Chair Lee took over handling the matter and her notice of the complaint's dismissal emphasizes that he had no involvement in the investigation or final decision.
Mead's formal complaint:
The Honorable Benjamin J. F. Cruz
34th Guam Legislature
163 Chalan Santo Papa
Hagàtña, Guam 96910
It is with a heavy heart that I must file this “Ethics Complaint” towards Senator Fernando Barcinas Esteves. He has flagrantly violated his oath of office,
“I SOLEMNLY SWEAR (OR AFFIRM) IN THE PRESENCE OF ALMIGHTY GOD THAT I WILL WELL AND FAITHFULLY SUPPORT THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES, THE LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES APPLICABLE TO GUAM, AND THE LAWS OF GUAM, AND THAT I WILL CONSCIENTIOUSLY AND IMPARTIALLY DISCHARGE MY DUTIES AS A MEMBER OF I LIHESLATURAN GUÅHAN.”
In that through his recent actions during a protest in front of Anderson Air Force Base he has not followed his oath. His ranting and yelling “Call the base commander! Call the base commander!” is just one indicator of his conscientious disregard for his oath of office and the Standing Rules of the 34th Legislature, per Rule XIX, §19.02 (c). The other indicator is through his social media page (attached) where-in he asserts to incited civil disobedience and disregard for the Constitution of the United States.
Lastly and though not tied directly to the Guam Legislature, but again an indiscretion that brings discredit to his office is his blatant disregard for the Military Chain of Command, clear a violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice as a Sergeant in the Guam National Guard. Where-in under Article 89 of the UCMJ Senator Esteves did show, and exhibit a behavior and disrespect for a superior officer. Article 117 stipulates “Any person subject to this chapter who uses provoking or reproachful words or gestures towards any other person subject to this chapter shall be punished as a Court-Martial may direct.”
It is for these reasons that I bring this charge of an ethics Violation before the 34th Legislature.
Mead's response to dismissal of his ethics complaint:
Ms. Lee, You have got to be kidding! There are documented pictures with quotes. Are you people that blind or so inept to police yourselves or is it because it deals with a Chamorro activist and filed by a non-indigenous Guamanian? You and all those on your committee have lost my vote and rest assured of my active campaign against your re-election.
Barry L. Mead