Rosenberg says fiancé can make Senate run

Senate President declines to say whether he would endorse his partner

SENATE PRESIDENT STANLEY ROSENBERG said on Tuesday that his fiancé can run for the Senate if he chooses but the Amherst Democrat stopped short of saying whether or not he supports the idea or even would endorse his 28-year-old partner in a primary.

“He has the right to consider running for public office, the same as you have the right to consider running for office,” Rosenberg said during a conversation with a Boston Globe reporter at the Suffolk University Law School.

Rosenberg said he’s had conversations with Bryon Hefner, his longtime partner, about Hefner’s interest in running for the soon-to-be-vacant seat held by Sen. Anthony Petruccelli of East Boston, who is leaving to take a lobbying job. But the 66-year-old lawmaker, who lived as a foster child in Revere, which is part of the district, declined to reveal what those talks entailed. And he indicated he had not decided about endorsing in the primary.

“We’ll face that question if he decides to run,” said Rosenberg. “He is doing his due diligence.”

The issue arose as Politico and the Globe reported that Hefner, who resides with Rosenberg in Amherst and shares a condo with him on Beacon Hill, was exploring a run. Hefner told Politico he is “strongly considering running to maintain the seat at the table for the First Suffolk and Middlesex District.” He said he has lived in the district seven out of the last 10 years but Boston magazine reported Tuesday that voter records in Amherst show he has been registered in that town at least since 2009 and has voted in every election there.

Hefner has caused some awkward moments for Rosenberg since before the 13-term senator took over as the chamber’s leader. Hefner reportedly tried to use his relationship with Rosenberg to talk with other senators about committee assignments and, when his former employer, Regan Communications, bragged about the company’s connections, he was forced to resign. He also made disparaging remarks about then-Senate President Therese Murray on social media.

The episodes caused Rosenberg to send a letter to colleagues assuring them there would be no further problems and declaring he would build a “firewall” between his private and public lives. Rosenberg said during Tuesday’s conversation that firewall remains.

In the Globe’s report about Hefner’s exploration of a Senate run, a Senate source said Hefner at one time considered a challenge to Rosenberg for the Amherst seat, with no further explanation. The report said Hefner has an “at-times strained relationship” with the man he is now engaged to. When asked if Hefner had considered a challenge, Rosenberg emphatically said, “Absolutely not,” and criticized the story for using an unnamed source.

During the wide-ranging conversation, Rosenberg also said he thought the state’s ethics laws and regulations were “overreaching” and needed to be repealed and replaced.

“We moved from a society that said you had to avoid taking a bribe… to now avoiding even the possibility of appearance of conflict of interest,” he said. “How do you do that? I think we should be reasonable about our ethics laws.”

Meet the Author

Jack Sullivan

Senior Investigative Reporter, CommonWealth

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is a veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

A Boston native, Jack has lived in Massachusetts all his life. He was a major in English and history with a minor in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A father and grandfather, he lives in Plymouth with his wife, Susan.

About Jack Sullivan

Jack Sullivan is a veteran of the Boston newspaper scene for nearly three decades. Prior to joining CommonWealth, he was editorial page editor of The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, a part of the GateHouse Media chain. Prior to that he was news editor at another GateHouse paper, The Enterprise of Brockton, and also was city edition editor at the Ledger. Jack was an investigative and enterprise reporter and executive city editor at the Boston Herald and a reporter at The Boston Globe.

He has reported stories such as the federal investigation into the Teamsters, the workings of the Yawkey Trust and sale of the Red Sox, organized crime, the church sex abuse scandal and the September 11 terrorist attacks. He has covered the State House, state and local politics, K-16 education, courts, crime, and general assignment.

Jack received the New England Press Association award for investigative reporting for a series on unused properties owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and shared the association's award for business for his reporting on the sale of the Boston Red Sox. As the Ledger editorial page editor, he won second place in 2007 for editorial writing from the Inland Press Association, the nation's oldest national journalism association of nearly 900 newspapers as members.

At CommonWealth, Jack and editor Bruce Mohl won first place for In-Depth Reporting from the Association of Capitol Reporters and Editors for a look at special education funding in Massachusetts. The same organization also awarded first place to a unique collaboration between WFXT-TV (FOX25) and CommonWealth for a series of stories on the Boston Redevelopment Authority and city employees getting affordable housing units, written by Jack and Bruce.

A Boston native, Jack has lived in Massachusetts all his life. He was a major in English and history with a minor in political science at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. A father and grandfather, he lives in Plymouth with his wife, Susan.

He was also asked why, as a longtime supporter and alumni of the University of Massachusetts, the Senate refused to go along with the House in supporting a $10 million addition to the school’s budget to pay for negotiated faculty raises. There has been speculation of a growing feud between Rosenberg and new UMass President Marty Meehan, but Rosenberg would not explain why the funds disappeared.

“If this is on the record, I can’t actually tell you how it happened,” the Senate President said with a smirk. But when pressed as to why he couldn’t tell, he said, “That’s not the way it works. It’s your job to figure it out.”