Senate to discuss Rosenberg report; resignation calls mount

Senator Stanley C. Rosenberg and his husband Bryon Hefner

Former Massachusetts Senate President Stan Rosenberg says he's resigning from the Senate because he would no longer be able to fully represent the interests of his constituents.

Former Massachusetts Senate President Stan Rosenberg has not responded to calls that he resign his Senate seat after an ethics report found he "failed to protect the Senate" from his husband, who has been charged with sexual harassment and assault.

The caucus, which was to be followed by a formal session of the Senate, came amid mounting calls for Rosenberg to resign his seat. When the Legislature boosted lawmakers salaries a year ago, the bump gave Rosenberg an $80,000 stipend as Senate president on top of his $62,547 base salary, an increase of $55,000, not including the $20,000 expense allowance.

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Bryon Hefner has pleaded not guilty to charges including assault and battery.

Rosenberg was also criticized for allowing Hefner access to his official emails and calendar, and failing to enforce a firewall between government business and his personal life.

"Essentially, Senator Rosenberg failed to protect the Senate from his husband, whom he knew was disruptive, volatile and abusive", investigators concluded.

The access to Rosenberg's accounts gave Hefner "unfettered" access to the Senate president's email and confidential information, and the report found that Hefner had abused that access and sent messages under Rosenberg's name.

Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, Democratic Attorney General Maura Healey and at least six Democratic senators had publicly called for Rosenberg to quit after release of the report.

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For Rosenberg, it likely closes the final chapter of a lengthy legislative career during which he successfully solved some of Beacon Hill's thorniest puzzles, from making resort-style casinos legal to redrawing the state's legislative boundaries to overhauling the state's criminal justice system.

Rosenberg, 68, was the first openly gay lawmaker to lead a legislative chamber in MA.

Rosenberg has said Hefner's presence in his life helped him become the person he is today, supporting him as he beat back cancer and giving him strength to disclose that he is gay.

"As I have stated repeatedly over the last 5 months, I deeply regret the difficulties that this situation has created for the members, the staff and the institution of the Senate. It was the greatest gift anyone has given to me". The couple, who have been together since 2008, married in 2016.

The report recommended that Rosenberg be banned from leadership positions, but Feeney and others wanted to go further.

Democrats were holding a caucus Thursday to discuss what to do next about Rosenberg when reports surfaced that he had made a decision to resign, fearing he would be expelled. The committee can only take action against a senate member of a staffer and has no jurisdiction over a senator's spouse. "Or a whole office full".

Rosenberg stepped down as Senate leader shortly after the probe began, though he remains in the Senate and has said he intends to run for re-election in November. Brownsberger said he plans to "make little if any additional comment" on the report and recommendations.

Hefner was indicted in March.

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