Tony Babauta resigns as Chief of Staff to Guam’s Governor
The Governor of Guam’s Chief of Staff, Tony Babauta, has resigned for personal reasons.
“Earlier today, Tony Babauta resigned his position as Chief of Staff for personal reasons which I have accepted,” said Governor Lou Leon Guerrero (D) in a statement issued by Adelup, “I want to thank Tony for all his hard work and support of the Administration, and for serving the people of Guam. I wish him all the best.”
“Deputy Chief of Staff Jon Junior Calvo will assume the position of Chief of Staff in an acting capacity. I want to thank Jon for stepping up to the challenge during an unprecedented time amid this COVID-19 crisis.”
Babauta resigned days following the confirmation of the governor’s office that he spent one night in the Pacific Star Resort which is a government of Guam-designated COVID-19 facility for travelers who are being quarantined.
Earlier this week, Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services director Linda Unpingco Denorcey confirmed she received a phone call from Babauta a few days ago.
He said he wasn’t feeling well, and she allowed him to stay at the Pacific Star because of concerns that he has elderly parents at home. Denorcey could not say how long he had been staying at the quarantine facility and whether he had been tested for COVID-19.
Governor Lou Leon Guerrero’s Communications Director Janela Carrera said he stayed for one night. She also told KUAM that other government staff also spend nights at the hotel.
She says the quarantine facility is managed on a 24/7 basis with two to three staffers working the site at any given point during the 24/7 period, are provided a room to rest.
GovGuam has entered into an understanding with the Pacific Star for the local government to pay $544,600 for the use of 389 hotel rooms at $100 a night every two weeks.
A troubled career in public service
Anthony Marion (Tony) Babauta was confirmed as the Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Insular Affairs on September 10, 2009. Babauta is the first native islander to hold this position, which the Obama administration raised to Assistant Secretary status for the first time since 1994.
During his time in that office, Babauta helped coordinate federal policy for Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, US Virgin Islands, and American Samoa. He was responsible for administering federal assistance to the Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, and Palau.
On November 17, 2012, Laura Davis, the Chief of Staff of the Interior, placed Babauta on administrative leave. He officially resigned as the assistant secretary on January 24, 2013.
In June 2014, the Interior’s Office of Inspector General released the results of its investigation into allegations that he had “mistreated his employees through discrimination and sexual harassment, misused government equipment and personnel, and took personal trips under the guise of government travel.”
The office referred its findings to the US Attorney’s Office for the Districts of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands. “The US Attorney’s Office declined this case for a criminal prosecution,” concluded the inspector general office’s report.
Tony Babauta got the second chance as Leon Guerrero’s Chief of Staff on December 10, 2018. Following the announcement of his appointment as Chief of Staff, Babauta declined a request to revisit the impact of that report.
Well written and accurate.
Robert P. Bunn
former Insular Affairs Field Representative, CNMI and USVI