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Embattled Former Senate President Rosenberg To Resign Following Ethics Committee Report

Sen. Stanley Rosenberg is at center. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Sen. Stanley Rosenberg is at center. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
This article is more than 1 year old.

Former Senate President Stanley Rosenberg announced Thursday afternoon he will resign from his position as senator, effective Friday at 5 p.m.

Rosenberg's resignation comes on the heels of a damaging report from the Senate Ethics Committee that said Rosenberg failed to keep his now-estranged husband, Bryon Hefner, from interfering in official Senate business.

In its report, the committee recommended Rosenberg be barred for the remainder of this session and the following two-year session from serving as Senate president, in Senate leadership or as chair of any committee.

In a statement released by Rosenberg, the Amherst Democrat said he "deeply regrets" the situation.

He goes on to say:

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 5:00pm.

Hours after Rosenberg's announcement, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker told reporters that he found the details of the committee's report "disturbing" and said Rosenberg "made the right the decision" in choosing to step down.

The Senate released a statement Thursday afternoon saying legislators "accept Senator Rosenberg’s resignation because we agree with the decision that it is no longer appropriate for him to serve in the Senate.

"As members of this body, we want to say to victims, staff, and all whose lives were affected: We are sorry for what you have been through. You deserved better. We must do better," the statement added.

The 80-page report, by independent investigators at the law firm Hogan Lovells, detailed allegations against Hefner that included sexually harassing and assaulting men who either worked in the Legislature or had business there. Hefner pleaded not guilty to several charges, including indecent assault and battery, on April 24.

The report also faulted Rosenberg for giving "unfettered" access to his official Senate email to Hefner, which is against the Senate IT policy.

After the report's release, several Democratic lawmakers, including Sens. Barbara L'Italien, Paul Feeney, Jamie Eldridge, James Welch and John Keenan, began calling for Rosenberg's resignation, as did Baker and Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey.

Rosenberg had said last month that he planned to seek re-election.

Many of Rosenberg's constituents in western Massachusetts expressed regret Thursday over how his political career has ended.

"You know, my understanding of the things that he's done in his career, it does feel like a shame, honestly," said Lena Fletcher, a UMass professor who lives in Northampton.

With reporting from WBUR's Steve Brown, New England Public Radio and the State House News Service

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