BOSTON -- Democrats desperate to move on from a months-long saga that exposed their toxic culture of corruption got more bad news yesterday. The indictment of Bryon Hefner made a clear case that abuse of power and sexual assault occurred with a shocking level of regularity within the orbit of the ex-Senate President. Now, Senate President Chandler, Senator Spilka, and fellow Democrats face a test of leadership given the disturbing details of the indictment.
"It's clear that Senate Democrats will be unable to credibly separate themselves from the toxic, unaccountable culture they created, which allowed this kind of alleged assault and abuse of power to occur," said MassGOP Chairman Kirsten Hughes. "This fall, voters are ready to create more balance and accountability in the Legislature by electing more Republicans who will deliver honest, reform-oriented leadership. In the meantime, it's incumbent upon Senate President Chandler, Senator Spilka, and their fellow Democrats to decide whether Rosenberg belongs in their caucus, given that this indictment suggests his leadership tolerated this kind of behavior."
The Hefner Indictment Continues Weeks Of "Turmoil" For Senate Democrats:
State House News Service: "The Hefner allegations and corresponding ethics investigation have cast a cloud over the Senate in recent months, and the indictments have the possibility to further unsettle a body that has been striving to move past turmoil caused by the ensuing leadership shakeup and the arrests of a current and former member.
"Former Sen. Brian Joyce, was arrested by the FBI and indicted in December on 113 counts, including racketeering, extortion, mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering and tax evasion. Sen. Michael Brady of Brockton was arrested over the weekend on drunken driving charges and is due in court for a pre-trial hearing on April 13." (Katie Lannan, "Hefner indicted in connection with sexual assault, nude photos," State House News Service, 3/29/18)
A Myriad Of Dems Defended Rosenberg After The Hefner Allegations Emerged:
William Brownsberger: "The Belmont Democrat later visited the Senate President's office to 'chat,' and afterward told the News Service that Rosenberg continues to have his support. 'I do. I think he's been a great Senate president and I think that his husband, as far as I know, has played no role in the material workings of the Senate. I don't see him around,' Brownsberger said." (SHNS)
Michael Barrett: "While many senators were mum on their personal beliefs, pressure was also mounting from the outside on Rosenberg to relinquish his leadership post during an investigation into his husband's alleged harassment. While some senators left the door open to recommending Rosenberg step aside, Sen. Michael Barrett made a defense of the president Monday morning and a case for him to remain on the job.
"Barrett, a Lexington Democrat, called the allegations against Hefner 'deeply unsettling,' but defended Rosenberg who has said he did not know of his husband's behavior until the Globe report. The statement came before Rosenberg indicated he was prepared to temporarily give up the gavel.
"'As terrible as all this is, both for the apparent targets of inappropriate behavior and for the Senate itself, none of us is legally or morally responsible for the actions of our spouse unless we're aware of it and don't try to stop it,' Barrett said in a statement Monday morning. (SHNS)
Harriette Chandler: "'In order to ensure a completely impartial process, and because of these unique circumstances which involve the Office of the Senate President, we will be going to the unprecedented step of bringing in an independent special investigator.' Chandler added, 'I appreciate that President Rosenberg has recused himself from playing any role in this investigation. While the Senate President will be recused in this matter, he will remain in the Office of the Senate President and retain his responsibilities for all other matters before the Senate.'" (SHNS)
Jason Lewis: "State Senator Jason M. Lewis, however, said he believes an investigation can be conducted fairly while Rosenberg remains in power.
"'I have full confidence...that that investigation will provide a safe environment for anyone who has any knowledge of this matter or has been involved in any manner to come forward and share their story without any repercussions to them,” said Lewis, of Winchester, in a phone interview Sunday. (Boston Globe)
Sonia Chang-Diaz: "...E) Chang-Diaz, Lewis, and Barrett sure look bad right about now for explicitly backing Stan remaining as president through the investigation..." (David Bernstein)