By Bob Katzen
RESIGNS – Former Senate President Stan Rosenberg of Amherst resigned from the Senate last week following the release of a report by the Ethics Committee that found Rosenberg violated the Senate’s IT policy by sharing his confidential computer password which gave his husband Byron Hefner, unfettered access to Rosenberg’s Senate e-mail account. The report also found that Hefner had abused that access and sent messages under Rosenberg’s name.
Hogan Lovells is the law firm hired by the Ethics Committee to conduct the probe and issue a report to the committee.
The report also revealed that Rosenberg knew or should have known that Hefner racially and sexually harassed Senate employees and failed to address the issue adequately.
Investigators found that Rosenberg did not violate any Senate rules but demonstrated a “significant failure of judgment and leadership” which led to “failures that undermined the integrity of the Senate and had destructive consequences for the body and the people with business before it.”
On March 29, a grand jury indicted Hefner on felony charges connected with five sexual assaults and criminal lewdness.
Calls for Rosenberg’s resignation were quick.
“The Senate’s ethics report reveals a deeply disturbing pattern of behavior, making it clear that Sen. Rosenberg has compromised the business of the chamber and trust of his constituents,” said Gov. Charlie Baker. “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.”
“Because Senator Rosenberg allowed a destructive pattern of behavior to continue over the course of many years, violating the trust that my colleagues and I invested in him, it is my firm belief that he should resign,” said Ways and Means Chair Karen Spilka (D-Ashland). “Doing so will move us towards our goal of healing the Senate and making it a safe, welcoming and productive place for everyone.”
On Thursday, Rosenberg released a lengthy statement that included his resignation from the Senate. Here is the statement in its entirety:
“As I have stated repeatedly over the last 5 months, I deeply regret the difficulties that this situation has created for the members, the staff and the institution of the Senate.
In its report, Hogan Lovells found no conduct by me that violated Senate rules or state ethics law, no evidence that Bryon influenced my actions as Senate president, and no knowledge on my part of any alleged sexual advances, assaults or attempts by Bryon to influence other senators or staff.
The report does, however, summarize statements from witnesses alleging that Bryon engaged in actions that harmed them and others, and it finds fault with my not having done more to control Bryon’s access to information and to the people who worked in and around the Senate.
Although, as the report notes, I was unaware of many of the events attributed to Bryon and took steps to address those incidents that came to my attention, that does not diminish my sorrow at what reportedly transpired or my sense of responsibility for what the Ethics Committee concludes was a failure on my part in not doing more to protect the Senate. I have devoted nearly forty years of my life to public service with over 25 years in the Senate, motivated always by the best interests of that body and my constituents. To the extent my efforts fell short, and most especially to all who have been affected by the events described in the Hogan Lovells report, I convey my sincere apology.
I had hoped that, with the conclusion of the investigation, I would be able to focus, once again, on representing my constituents and contributing meaningfully to the work of the Senate. In light, however, of the disciplinary measures 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. I have resigned from my position as State Senator for the Hampshire Franklin and Worcester District effective Friday May 4, 2018 at 5 pm.”