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Baker, other top pols back away from Stan Rosenberg

Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff

Jay Gonzalez said “it seems clear that the firewall the Senate president had committed to put in place to ensure his husband was not involved in Senate business broke down.”

By Globe Staff 

A growing group of local politicians, including Governor Charlie Baker, publicly backed away from Senator Stanley C. Rosenberg Monday.

Their comments followed a weekend Globe report that Rosenberg’s husband, Bryon Hefner, had involved himself in Senate affairs even after the senator had promised a “firewall” between his personal life and legislative business.

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Rosenberg said he did not allow Hefner to influence Senate business.

Baker on Monday called the new allegations “deeply concerning” and said if they are accurate, “there’s no way” the one-time Senate president should return to his former leadership post.

Acting Senate President Harriette L. Chandler, a Worcester Democrat, said she is “appalled by the allegations, if they’re true.”

And two Democratic gubernatorial candidates, former Newton mayor Setti Warren and one-time state budget chief Jay Gonzalez, weighed in on the matter. Warren said Rosenberg “will not and should not be Senate president again” and Gonzalez called for Rosenberg to resign from the Senate entirely.

“. . . To lift the cloud hanging over the Senate, and for all the important work the Senate needs to focus on and do for the people of this state,” Gonzalez said, “I believe Stan Rosenberg should resign from the state Senate.”

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Warren said he is not ready to call for Rosenberg’s resignation as a legislator. “That decision rests with him, the communities in Western Massachusetts that Stan has represented for more than three decades and the LGBT community that has viewed him as a trailblazer and role model,” said the one-time mayor, using an acronym for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. “Those are the people who should be engaging in that conversation with Stan right now.”

Entrepreneur Bob Massie, the other Democrat running for governor, said that though he is very surprised and disturbed by the recent news, “I believe in the principle of innocent until proven guilty. Let’s see what the independent investigation determines before we offer opinions on what should happen next.’’​

For his part, Rosenberg, an Amherst Democrat, said Monday: “I did not allow Bryon Hefner to influence my actions and decisions as Senate president, or to influence the Senate’s actions and decisions, despite any suggestions to the contrary.”

In November, the Globe detailed accusations from four unnamed men who alleged that Hefner had sexually assaulted or harassed them and who said that Hefner bragged he could influence Senate business. Though three of the alleged incidents took place when Rosenberg was just feet away, the Globe found no evidence that he knew about the assaults. Rosenberg subsequently stepped down temporarily from the presidency while a Senate committee investigates if he broke the chamber’s rules.

That inquiry, by the state Senate Committee on Ethics, is ongoing, and Rosenberg said Monday he continues to rely on that investigation “to determine all the facts.”

During the weekend, the Globe reported that Hefner had access to Rosenberg’s e-mails, tried to affect the state budget, and involved himself in the workings of Rosenberg’s office, as well as in Senate affairs — all after Rosenberg had promised the “firewall.”

The story cited interviews with unnamed people who dealt with Hefner, as well as communications reviewed by the newspaper.

Rosenberg took issue with that report Sunday, saying it included “a number of significant factual inaccuracies.” He did not specify what they were.

Also on Monday, Mayor Martin J. Walsh, a former legislator, said Rosenberg “has some explaining to do.”

Walsh said he thinks the situation is sad for the chamber.

“The Senate’s going to have to do their own questions of how long they do this for,” Walsh said. “It’s going to start to affect government.”


Material from the State House News Service was used in this report Miller can be reached at joshua.miller@globe.com.