Ethics probe finds fault with Rosenberg, recommends barring senator from leadership positions through 2020

The Senate Committee on Ethics has recommended former Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst) be barred from Senate leadership or leadership of any committee for the duration of this legislative session or the next.

State Sen. Michael Rodrigues, who is chair of the Senate Committee on Ethics, announced Wednesday that Rosenberg allowed his husband, Bryon Hefner, unfettered access to the goings on in the Senate.

“The firewall that Sen. Rosenberg promised would exist between his private life and the business of the Senate was ineffective,” Rodrigues said, alongside other members of the Ethics committee.

Rosenberg, who was not present at the press conference, did not immediately respond to a call for comment Wednesday.

The committee did not ask Rosenberg to resign, as the committee decided that the voters of the district should make that call.

Shortly after the news conference, however, Gov. Charles Baker called on Rosenberg to resign.

“The Senate’s ethics report reveals a deeply disturbing pattern of behavior, making it clear that Senator Rosenberg has compromised the business of the Chamber and trust of his constituents,” Baker wrote in a statement. “For the good of the institution and those who elected him to serve, I believe the Senator needs to resign immediately. My thoughts remain with the victims and I commend them for their bravery.”

However, Rodrigues said Rosenberg would be the only Democratic member of the state Senate not to be a chair of a committee.

The Senate Committee on Ethics met with the full Senate for more than five hours before meeting with reporters on Wednesday. The ethics probe report, completed by Hogan Lovells US law firm for a fee of nearly $230,000, is more than 100 pages long.

The probe found that Rosenberg violated the Senate IT policy by sharing his personal computer password with Hefner from 2009 to 2017. The probe did not find that Rosenberg violated any specific Senate rules.

Rosenberg stepped down as Senate President in December following the allegations made against Hefner. A Boston Globe report, published in November, said Hefner groped or kissed four men who had business before the Senate and boasted about his influence with Rosenberg.

The probe found that Rosenberg did not know about the alleged sexual assaults, but that he did undermine the Legislature’s anti-harassment policy.

Hefner was criminally charged in March with charges of sexual assault, criminal lewdness, and distributing nude photos without consent.

The full report will be made available to the public.

The first openly gay person to hold the Senate presidency, Rosenberg began dating Hefner in 2008 following a time when Hefner interned for Rosenberg’s office. The two men connected over being in the state’s foster care system, Rosenberg has previously said. The two were married in a private ceremony on Sept. 6, 2016. Rosenberg confirmed that the two separated in January of this year.

Since December, Rosenberg has served a rank-and-file state senator, vowing to allow the Senate probe to remain independent. He said in April he would run for re-election to his seat even as a primary challenger, Northampton Democrat Chelsea Kline, announced she would run for the seat.

Rosenberg said he believed the ethics probe would find that Hefner had no influence on Senate business. He also claimed in 2014, after the Globe reported Hefner boasted he would have influence over Rosenberg as Senate President, that there would be a “firewall” between his personal life and his political life.

Another Globe report, published in February, alleged that Hefner had been given access to Rosenberg’s Senate email account.

Rosenberg has been a state Senator since 1991, and before that was a state Rep. between 1986 and 1991. He served as Senate President for nearly three years, from 2015 to 2017.

Dave Eisenstadter can be reached at deisen@valleyadvocate.com.

Share This Post On

Sign up for our daily newsletter!

You don't want to be left out, do you?

Sign up!

You have Successfully Subscribed!