Mass. senator to quit after scathing ethics report
Boston – Former Massachusetts Senate President Stan Rosenberg announced Thursday he would end his long political career after a scathing ethics report that said he failed to protect the Senate from his husband, who has been accused of sexual misconduct.
In a one-sentence letter delivered to the Senate, Rosenberg said his resignation would be effective at 5 p.m. Friday.
The decision came amid mounting calls, including several from his Democratic colleagues, for the Amherst Democrat to leave the Senate. He had stepped down from the presidency in December when allegations first surfaced against his husband, Bryon Hefner. The couple has since separated.
Senators were meeting in a closed door caucus Thursday to discuss the report, which was prepared by investigators hired by the Senate Ethics Committee and released Wednesday. It concluded that Rosenberg showed “significant failure of judgment and leadership,” and knew or should have known that his now-estranged husband, Bryon Hefner, was “disruptive, volatile and abusive,” and had racially or sexually harassed employees of the Senate.
The report did not accuse the 68-year-old Rosenberg of breaking any Senate rules, though it did say he violated policy by giving Hefner access to his Senate email account despite a promise to his colleagues that he would build a “firewall” between his personal and professional life.
The ethics committee had recommended Rosenberg be barred from leadership posts or from chairing any committees through 2020. The Senate could have considered further punishment when it meets in a formal session later Thursday.
On Wednesday, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker said Rosenberg should resign from the Senate for the “good of the institution.” Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey, whose office brought the charges against Hefner, also said Rosenberg should leave the chamber.
Rosenberg has served in the Senate since 1991 and was elected president in 2015. He earlier served in the House.
He was the first openly gay lawmaker to serve as leader of a legislative chamber in Massachusetts.
Hefner, 30, pleaded not guilty at his arraignment last month on charges of sexual assault, criminal lewdness and distributing nude photos without consent. The allegations involve four men.
Hefner’s attorney said his client plans to defend himself in court.
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