Rosenberg campaign spends nearly $150K on legal fees

  • Stanley Rosenberg GAZETTE FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Thursday, January 31, 2019

AMHERST — A significant portion of the $234,991 in campaign money spent by former Senate President Stanley Rosenberg in 2018 went to legal fees, according to a year-end campaign finance report filed last week.

The report, provided to the Office of Campaign and Political Finance, shows that Rosenberg, who left office in May, spent $148,730 on legal fees, including $72,575 after his resignation in May 2018. 

In June, a civil lawsuit was filed by a former Statehouse aide against the Amherst Democrat and his husband, Bryon Hefner, alleging that he had been sexually assaulted by Hefner, and that Rosenberg “knew or was aware” his husband posed a risk to Senate staffers. That lawsuit was withdrawn in October.

The combined legal fees, paid to Clements & Pineault, LLP of Boston, the attorneys representing Rosenberg in the lawsuit, represented about 63 percent of the total spending, which left his account with $223,154 as of Dec. 31.

Jason Tait, a spokesman for the campaign and political finance office, said candidates who are not currently in office are not required to close their accounts and are allowed to make expenditures to enhance their political futures.

This spending, he said, can include making donations to political organizations and non-profit entities, and for political-related events.

“However, they cannot make expenditures that are primarily personal,” Tait said.

Rosenberg declined to comment publicly on his campaign finance report.

Aside from the legal expenses, the largest expenditures by Rosenberg were a $1,300 donation to Mass Humanities and a $1,300 gift to the Northampton Democratic City Committee. In addition, he spent $509 to put on a dinner for the newly elected Town Council in Amherst last fall.

He also made a series of smaller donations, including $100 apiece to the Amherst Boys and Girls Club, Amherst Cinema, First Congregational Church of Amherst, the League of Women Voters of Amherst, the University of Massachusetts music department, the Children’s Advocacy Center in Greenfield and the Community Fund of Western Massachusetts. He also refunded several contributions previously made to his campaign.

Other lawmakers

Others who have left the Legislature also filed their year-end reports, and like Rosenberg still have some money left in their accounts.

Longtime state Rep. Stephen Kulik began the year with $57,105 and spent $33,766, ending the year with $25,864.

Catering and the venue rental for a retirement party in November tallied $8,623, while Kulik spent $4,200 for renting his district office. A series of small donations, gift purchases and lodging for events rounded out his spending.

State Rep. John Scibak’s year-end report shows that he began 2018 with $36,864, spent $28,359 and ended the calendar year with $5,039.

The largest expense was the $3,650 for catering, drinks and rental costs for an annual picnic, as well as $2,000 given to the Committee for a Democratic House Political Action Committee. Other expenses included cellphones and and donations to other campaigns.

Previously, the accounts for both state Rep. Solomon Goldstein-Rose, who chose not to seek reelection, and the late state Rep. Peter Kocot, who died in office, were both closed.

With $4,542.70 remaining in his campaign account as of Oct. 19, Goldstein-Rose, who unenrolled from the Democratic Party earlier this year, chose to donate $1,000 to the Amherst Education Foundation, $1,542.70 to Voter Choice Massachusetts and $1,500 to Citizens’ Climate Lobby.

Kocot’s campaign filed a report before the account was dissolved Oct. 13 showing that it still had $8,551. Of this, $6,000 went to Seth Mias Catering for an after-funeral gathering for family and constituents. In addition, $100 went to Diana Szynal’s campaign to succeed him, $644 was used for office cellphones, and $1,807 went toward reimbursements and a liability.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.