BOSTON -- The Lowell Sun's Peter Lucas is out with a bombshell report indicating that Acting Senate President Harriette Chandler has inside knowledge of the supposedly independent and confidential ethics committee proceedings into Senator Stan Rosenberg, and that some of the Democrat committee members appointed by Rosenberg to the committee to oversee the investigation are poised to support his return to power. The report questions the independence of the committee process from Democrat leadership, as Rosenberg "roams the corridors of the Statehouse and sits in Senate sessions along with members of the committee who are investigating him."
Getting to the bottom of things in true Statehouse style
By Peter Lucas
There are no secrets at the Statehouse.
Sooner or later, one way or another, everything comes out.
So, it is understandable why four men who were allegedly sexually assaulted by Bryon Hefner, the husband of former Senate President Stan Rosenberg, are reluctant to cooperate with the Senate Ethics Committee that is investigating the matter.
Hefner has been accused of sexually assaulting the men, all of whom have working connections with the Legislature and the Statehouse, either as lobbyists or otherwise.
It is charged that Hefner used his influence over Rosenberg as a threat over the men, or as a bargaining chip, during his sexual advances. All the men have remained anonymous to date.
Meanwhile, both Attorney General Maura Healey and Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley are conducting a joint investigation into Hefner's behavior.
Both have encouraged anyone with information about allegations against Hefner to come forward "and feel safe in telling their stories."
Rosenberg has denied any knowledge of Hefner's alleged sexual misconduct and has insisted that Hefner had no influence over any official matters before him or the Senate. Rosenberg stepped down as senate president pending the outcome of the Senate probe.
He was replaced by Senate President Harriette Chandler, Rosenberg's former majority leader.
The problem is that investigators seeking to subpoena witnesses must get the approval of the six-member Senate Ethics Committee, which would have made committee members aware of their identities.
Given the nature of the Statehouse, it still will be only a matter of time before the names would be leaked. A Senate committee is not exactly a secret grand jury.
Witnesses fear that they would face retribution from Rosenberg and his allies once their names became known, despite committee assurances of confidentiality.
Rosenberg has separated from Hefner, who is in alcohol rehabilitation. While Rosenberg vacated the lavish Senate president's office for smaller office space in the basement -- along with giving up the inflated salary and staff -- he still roams the corridors of the Statehouse and sits in Senate sessions along with members of the committee who are investigating him.
More and more it appears that he is merely marking time until he returns to power.
Should the committee exonerate Rosenberg, as expected, it is a given that he will be elected Senate president once again, and that even the Democrats on the committee will be voting for him.
In other words, the outcome is in the bag. The Democrats on the committee were all appointed by Rosenberg.
Some think the process has already been contaminated because the committee's confidentiality has been compromised.
This breach in confidentiality came about when Senate President Chandler talked about the integrity of the investigation following a scheduled meeting last week with Gov. Charlie Baker and House Speaker Robert DeLeo.
Chandler said, "I don't have any problem with the integrity of the investigation. I think that the Ethics Committee is doing exactly what they're supposed to do."
"As long as they (the four men) come forward voluntarily, they will have full confidentiality. That is what this whole program is about, to make sure they have total and complete confidentiality."
Chandler pointed out that the Ethics Committee was authorized to issue subpoenas. But, she added, "they haven't chosen to do that at this point in time."
The fact that Chandler knows what the Ethics Committee is doing, or not doing, does not say much for its confidentiality. If Chandler knows what is going on behind those closed doors, you can bet that Rosenberg knows as well.
Back when Chandler took over as Senate president, she said, "I will have nothing to do with the investigation itself. Nothing."
The opposite of nothing is everything, which is closer to the truth.