Mayor Walsh Wonders How Long Senate Can Go Without Permanent President

With one candidate for governor calling for his resignation, former Senate President Stan Rosenberg might have "some explaining to do" and members of the Senate should think about installing a permanent leader for the branch, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh said Monday.

A longtime House member who led the House Ethics Committee before winning the mayoralty in 2013, Walsh was asked about a Boston Globe report that as Senate president, Rosenberg had given his husband Bryon Hefner access to his Senate email despite public claims that a firewall existed to keep Hefner out of the Senate's business.

"If that's true, the Senate president has some explaining to do because of his previous statements saying that there was a separation between him and his husband. I think it's a sad situation overall for the Senate president. I think it's very sad. I think he loves the institution and he loves being the president of the Senate," Walsh told reporters after a speech to the New England Council.

In early December, Rosenberg stepped aside from the presidency and his colleagues elected Worcester Democrat Harriette Chandler as their acting president to lead the body pending an investigation into Rosenberg and whether he had violated any Senate rules. The resignation followed a report in the Globe that Hefner had sexually assaulted and harassed four men involved in Massachusetts government and politics, and had claimed to have influence in the Senate.

"I have repeatedly made clear that Bryon was to have no influence on what happens in the Senate. He has no influence over policy, the internal operations of the Senate, or any Senate related business," Rosenberg said before stepping down.

Walsh questioned how long the Senate could continue without a permanent leader in charge of the branch.

"The Senate's going to have to do their own questions of how long they do this for. It's going to start to affect government. It's going to start to affect -- we have a budget process that's coming up right now that's moving forward," Walsh said. Calling Chandler a "great woman," Walsh said, "But at some point they're going to need leadership that's consistent, not temporary."

Linda Dorcena Forry, a Dorchester Democrat who tried to gather support for her candidacy as a future Senate president, resigned last month to work for Suffolk Construction. Sens. Sal DiDomenico, Karen Spilka and Eileen Donoghue have also tried to rally support for their potential ascent.

Sen. Patricia Jehlen, a member of Rosenberg's leadership team, refused to discuss the Globe report on the record Monday morning and would not say whether she thinks Rosenberg could realistically return to lead the Senate.

After Monday's session, Chandler declined to comment on the latest Globe story.

Over the weekend, Chandler issued a statement in response to the Globe story. "These allegations are deeply concerning to me. If true, they would appear to me to be a clear disregard of the firewall, and a violation of the standards all members are held to. The serious nature of these allegations is why it is critical that the investigation be completed in as thorough a manner as possible," Chandler said in her statement.

The law firm Hogan Lovells is conducting a confidential investigation for the Senate Ethics Committee to determine whether Rosenberg broke any Senate rules. There is no timeline to complete the investigation.

Colin A. Young contributed reporting.



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