Pressure Growing on Stan Rosenberg To Resign After New Report Released

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By Katie Lannan

BOSTON — Calls continued Thursday for former Massachusetts Senate President Stanley Rosenberg to resign after the release of a report Wednesday detailing what investigators described as a “significant failure of judgment and leadership” in connection with allegations against his civil-law husband.

Democratic state Senators Barbara L’Italien of Andover, Paul Feeney of Foxborough, and Jamie Eldridge of Acton have each joined the governor and attorney general in calling for the Amherst Democrat to step down.

The Senate Ethics Committee on Wednesday released a 77-page report that found Rosenberg did not break any rules but violated IT policy by allowing his civil-law husband, Bryon Hefner, “unfettered” access to his official email.

The report found that Rosenberg “undermined the goal of the Senate’s anti-harassment policy to promote a workplace free from sexual and other forms of discriminatory harassment because he knew or should have known that Hefner had racially and sexually harassed Senate employees and failed to address the issue adequately,” the committee said.

House Minority Leader Brad Jones issued his own call Thursday morning for Rosenberg to resign and said if the senator does not step down, “it is incumbent that the Senate takes much stronger disciplinary action than what has been recommended in the report.”

“Senator Rosenberg’s lapse in judgement and failure to put a stop to this constitutes a clear violation of the public’s trust that has unfairly compromised the integrity of the Massachusetts Senate,” the North Reading Republican said.

Eldridge, in a Facebook post, also said the Ethics Committee should recommend harsher punishment for Rosenberg. The committee recommended the former Senate president not be allowed to hold any leadership posts or committee chairmanships this term or next, a recommendation that would enable Rosenberg to continue his service in the Senate if voters in his district re-elect him.

“Senator Rosenberg failed to protect the public safety, well-being, and safe working environment of State Senators, Senate staff, State House employees, and individuals who have business before the Legislature,” Eldridge wrote.

Feeney said in a statement: “It is clear that the public trust has been violated and innocent people were put in harm’s way due to the senator’s ‘failure to protect the Senate from his husband whom he know was disruptive, volatile and abusive’ as quoted in the statement from the Ethics Committee.”

Senators plan to gather again in a closed-door caucus at 11 a.m., then meet in a formal session later in the day, with an agenda that includes a veterans’ benefits bill postponed from last week.

Senate President Harriette Chandler — who assumed the role after Rosenberg stepped down as president in December in the wake of allegations Hefner had sexually harassed men and meddled in Senate business — said Wednesday that she would take the evening to “further review the report and the strong recommendations of the Ethics Committee.”

Senator William Brownsberger (D-Belmont), the committee’s vice chairman, said he plans to “make little if any additional comment” on the report and recommendations.

“The answer to most questions has to be ‘read the report’ — I don’t want to paraphrase or inaccurately summarize the careful work of the investigator and the committee,” Brownsberger wrote Wednesday night on his website.

He said he expects the Senate will “take further action soon.”

Governor Charlie Baker and Attorney General Maura Healey on Wednesday each called for Rosenberg to step down, as did state Republican Party chairman Kirsten Hughes.

State Representative Keiko Orrall, a Lakeville Republican running for treasurer, said in a campaign statement that Rosenberg should resign immediately.

Her House colleague, Andover Republican Representative James Lyons, posted on Facebook that Healey should investigate the Senate Democrats and said, “Every member of Rosenberg’s leadership team should resign.”

Former Senator Benjamin Downing, a Democrat who last session served as Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy Committee chairman under Rosenberg, said in a tweet:  “Just finished reading the Senate Ethics Committee report. Public servants, especially those in leadership, must always be held to a higher standard. Senator Rosenberg should resign immediately.”

State Representative Geoff Diehl (R-Whitman), a candidate for U.S. Senate, called for Rosenberg to resign and called on U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren to join his call.

“The Rosenberg report reveals that the Senate President’s husband used his relationship to manipulate people and that the Senator compromised his leadership position. Senator Rosenberg needs to immediately resign to help restore the integrity of the Massachusetts legislature. I am calling on Senator Warren to also ask for his resignation,” said Diehl.

[Colin A. Young contributed reporting]