Rosenberg Steps Aside As Senate President During Investigation

BOSTON (WBZ-AM) -- Massachusetts Senate President Stan Rosenberg is taking a leave of absence as the Senate begins its sexual misconduct investigation into his husband. 

His husband, Bryon Hefner, was accused of sexual misconduct by four men in a Boston Globe story last week.

Senate Democrats met behind closed doors Monday to prepare for the investigation into the allegations against Hefner, and to choose an acting president.

They will name an independent investigator after a 1 p.m. formal session.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Dan Rea said the scenario was "absolutely unprecedented."

"I think the Senate President clearly is doing the right thing," Rea said. "This must be a tremendous problem for him personally and also politically and professionally."

Democratic analyst Mary Ann Walsh told WBZ NewsRadio 1030 that it's not clear whether Rosenberg stepping aside temporarily will be enough. 

"This is clearly a preemptive move by Stan Rosenberg to send a message to the caucus, which he's going to meet with shortly, that will determine his fate," she said. "The question is, will that be enough for the Democratic Caucus to keep Stan Rosenberg?"

Pam Wilmot, Executive Director of Common Cause Massachusetts, praised Rosenberg's decision.

"It obviously is a very difficult decision for him, but I think that makes sense," she said. "There's no indication of course that he knew or was involved in any way. At the same time, many of the victims are not feeling safe coming forward."

Rea said he thinks Rosenberg wants to regain the chair, and stepping aside during the investigation is one way to do it.

"The concern is, going forward, what happens when these lobbyists appear in front of the Senate a month from now, six months from now, a year from now?" Rea asked. "Is there a follow-on concern? This, obviously, is a concern that no one needs, least of all the Senate President."

Walsh said she thinks the pressure on the Democratic caucus will be "tremendous."

"The test for Stan Rosenberg in this caucus is to convince his colleagues that he can do the job of Senate President, to make sure that there is a zero-tolerance policy regarding sexual harassment, and there indeed is a firewall between him and his husband, something he promised three years ago. Neither of those things have been evident thus far." 

"Can he convince them that he can now make this work?" she asked. "That's a tough hill to climb."

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Lana Jones reports

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