Rosenberg to Resign Senate Seat
By Marie Szaniszlo and Bob McGovern
BOSTON -- Embattled ex-Senate President Stan Rosenberg will resign his Senate seat today, after pressure mounted in the wake of a Senate Ethics Committee report chastising him for a “significant failure of judgment and leadership” over allegations his indicted husband racially and sexually harassed men.
The Amherst Democrat, urged by Gov. Charlie Baker and Attorney General Maura Healey and ultimately his own Senate colleagues to resign, will step down as of 5 p.m., according to the one-sentence letter he submitted to Senate President Harriette L. Chandler Thursday, a day after the committee recommended to the full Senate that he not be allowed to serve as a member of the body’s leadership or as chairman of any committee for two years.
“In light ... of the disciplinary measure recommended by the ethics committee, it would not be fair to my constituents to have a representative in the Senate who lacked the authority to represent their interests fully,” Rosenberg said in a separate letter filed with the Senate clerk.
The Senate Thursday night voted 37-0 to accept his resignation, to apologize to the alleged victims and to promise a change in the Senate’s culture.
“As members of this body, we want to say to victims, staff and all those whose lives were affected: We are sorry for what you have been through. You deserved better. We must do better,” Chandler said in a statement she read to reporters. “We pledge to you to work diligently and swiftly to fortify the Senate’s systems for preventing and intervening in harassment in all its forms. Staff and all those who walk through the Statehouse doors must be able to work in confidence that these policies are lived values and not mere pieces of paper.”
The Ethics Committee’s report, released Wednesday, found that Rosenberg allowed his husband, Bryon Hefner, “largely unfettered access to Senate information” by sharing his confidential computer password with Hefner, who used it to read and send emails, posing as Rosenberg.
“Essentially, Sen. Rosenberg failed to protect the Senate from his husband, who he knew was disruptive, volatile and abusive,” said Sen. Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport), the committee’s chairman.
The 82-page report was based on 45 witness interviews and a review of thousands of emails and text messages, as well as an 11-hour interview over two days with Rosenberg, said lead investigator Tony Fuller, who said his team spoke to five people who said they had experienced “unwanted touching” by Hefner.
“Like many people, I found the report...to be incredibly disturbing, and I called on the former Senate president to step down, and I’m glad that he did,” Baker said. “I think he made the right decision.”
Had Rosenberg failed to yield to pressure to resign, Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr said, “We were prepared to take action...we agree with the result that has ensued, and we were prepared to get to that place.”
Hefner was indicted March 29 on multiple counts of indecent assault and battery, open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior, and dissemination of a visual image of a nude or partially nude person.
Bob McGovern contributed to this report.