Senate ethics committee assures protections in probe of Rosenberg, office

  • The Senate Ethics Committee on Thursday voted unanimously to continue its investigation into the Stanley Rosenberg, the Amherst Democrat who stepped down as Senate president amid allegations of sexual misconduct by his spouse. The committee also agreed to strengthen the protections for people who provide information to its special investigator. Gazette File photo

Staff Writer
Thursday, February 01, 2018

The Senate Committee on Ethics renewed a promise Jan. 25 to protect the identity of anyone providing information to investigators looking into whether Sen. Stanley Rosenberg or his staff violated Senate rules in connection with allegations of sexual misconduct against his spouse.

The committee, which is led by Sen. Michael Rodrigues, voted unanimously to continue its investigation into the Amherst Democrat and former Senate president. The committee also agreed to strengthen the protections for people who provide information to its special investigator, attorneys with the Hogan Lovells law firm in Boston.

The motion the committee adopted reads: “The special investigator and the senate counsel shall maintain as confidential and shall not disclose to any party, including any member of the Senate, the identity or identifying information of any victim, witness, subpoena recipient or other person who provides information to the special investigator or the senate counsel, unless the person specifically consents to being identified, or disclosure is required by judicial process or procedure.”

The latest action comes days after The Boston Globe reported that the investigation was floundering because alleged victims and possible witnesses were afraid to come forward out of fear of being identified, and then facing reprisal.

In the Globe’s initial report last fall, four men were allegedly harassed and assaulted by Rosenberg’s husband Bryon Hefner, who also bragged about his influence in the Senate chamber. Rosenberg stepped down as Senate president and has since separated from Hefner. In addition, Hefner checked himself into a treatment program for alcohol dependence.

WGBH News noted that Hogan Lovells attorneys don’t have independent subpoena powers and thus would have to provide any names of possible witnesses or alleged victims to the ethics committee.

A statement from the ethics committee was released by Kelsey Brennan, spokeswoman for Rodrigues.

It noted that the investigation is active and progressing, and that adopting the motion was reaffirming its commitment to protect the identities of all those who provide information to the special investigator.

A separate investigation into Hefner’s actions is being handled by Attorney General Maura Healey and Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley. Healey’s office has been contacted about the allegations.

In a statement, Healey said the join investigation was initiated because of the disturbing allegations against Hefner.

“Sexual assault is a crime, and we want to send a clear message that harassment and assault of any kind will not be tolerated,” Healey said. “We are here to help survivors and encourage anyone with information about these allegations to come forward and feel safe in telling their stories.”