It’s now up to Hefner’s accusers

In the space of five days, Beacon Hill has offered us a glimpse of all the complexity and unfairness associated with allegations of sexual assault and harassment in a political environment.

Four men, speaking anonymously to Boston Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham, claimed that Senate President Stanley Rosenberg’s husband, Bryon Hefner, assaulted and groped them at various times in 2015 and 2016. The four – described by Abraham in her Thursday column as a policy advocate, a legislative aide, a lobbyist, and a worker on Beacon Hill, characterized Hefner as a serial harasser who thought he could do just about anything and get away with it because of who his spouse is.

Rosenberg said on Friday that he was shocked and devastated by the allegations but insisted an investigation would find that Hefner had not interfered with Senate business. He also said Hefner was entering treatment for alcohol dependency.

In the wake of Rosenberg’s statement, Abraham reported that her confidantes were pleased to see their accusations being taken seriously. But they continued to insist, anonymously, that the power imbalance on Beacon Hill made them wary of stepping forward.

“It’s all about that dynamic,” said the lobbyist. “It exists to protect the people who are above the people they prey upon, who have the power to essentially threaten anyone below them with consequences. People need to understand how difficult it is to punch up.”

The policy advocate said he didn’t know if he would cooperate with an investigation into his allegations. “I’d need to trust that I will be safe, that my information will never be shared with anyone,” he told Abraham.

Over the weekend, calls for Rosenberg to step aside as Senate president mounted, and he complied Monday morning. After a day of jockeying for power, the Senate replaced him on an acting basis with Senate Majority Leader Harriette Chandler. The Senate Ethics Committee plans to launch an investigation Tuesday and Attorney General Maura Healey and Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley said they would begin criminal probes.

One of Hefner’s accusers still wasn’t satisfied. “If Rosenberg is trying to come back to the Senate presidency, why should any survivor trust their investigation?” he asked.

Many are now saying Rosenberg shouldn’t be allowed to return to the Senate presidency ever, despite claims from his supporters that it is unfair to hold him responsible for the actions of his spouse.

“All this well-intentioned concern for Rosenberg’s feelings is missing the hierarchy of victims at play here,” said Globe columnist Kevin Cullen. “Our first, overriding concern should be with the alleged victims. The integrity of our political system finishes a strong second.”

Boston Herald columnist Joe Battenfeld said the Senate’s approach didn’t hold water. “How can senators on the ethics committee be expected to run a thorough and tough investigation of Rosenberg, considering he will likely return to power and determine the path of their careers?” he asked.

What no one has mentioned is that without the alleged victims stepping forward no investigation of Hefner will amount to a hill of beans. It won’t be easy, but the alleged victims need to decide whether they want to step out of the shadows and take what they know about Hefner to investigators working for Healey, Conley, and the Senate. Otherwise, nothing is likely to come of all this.

BRUCE MOHL


BEACON HILL

Senate Majority Leader Harriette Chandler of Worcester replaced Stanley Rosenberg as acting Senate president. (Telegram & Gazette) A Salem News editorial urged Rosenberg to step aside as president permanently. A Lowell Sun editorial suggested the Senate make Sen. Eileen Donoghue of Lowell the chamber’s president. Sen. Michael Barrett of Lexington said Rosenberg should remain as president while the investigation of his husband, Byron Hefner, proceeds. (MassLive)

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court will hear arguments on Attorney General Maura Healey’s investigation of ExxonMobil. (MassLive)

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Worcester spent $10,700 on its pitch for Amazon’s second headquarters. (Telegram & Gazette)

Danvers banned recreational pot shops. (Salem News)

Jack Toulan, the vice chairman and a longtime member of the Somerset planning board resigned from the board so he wouldn’t cause a conflict by standing on a street corner holding a “Trump Must Go” sign. (Herald News)

The Quincy City Council rejected a $1,500 gift to the city’s DARE program by the contracted trash company, with members saying the firm should put the money into improving its trash collection. The councilors said they would make the donation instead. (Patriot Ledger)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL/SPACE

An analysis of the GOP tax reform finds that many of those high-earners in states that voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump will be hardest hit because of the elimination of state and local tax deductions. (New York Times)

US Rep. John Conyers, the longest-serving member of the House, will not seek reelection amid sexual harassment charges against him. (New York Times)

Massachusetts native Scott Tingle will be the latest American astronaut to lead a multinational crew on a mission on the International Space Station, scheduled to launch from Russia on Dec. 17. (MetroWest Daily News)

Will Vice President Mike Pence and the religious right be rewarded for their support of President Trump? (The Atlantic)

ELECTIONS

GOP leaders are changing their tune and moving to back Alabama US Senate candidate Roy Moore after President Trump formally endorsed him and the Republican National Committee reversed its decision and has renewed its financial support for his campaign. (U.S. News & World Report)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The Berkshire Museum, citing its “precarious financial condition,” asks the state Appeals Court to speed up its handling of a challenge to the museum’s sale of 40 works of art.

The new board members overseeing the commercial fishing Sector IX once ruled by Carlos Rafael, the now-convicted “Codfather” of New Bedford fishing, have appealed a decision by federal officials to shut down the area to groundfishing because of lingering issues from Rafael’s violation of catch quotas and reporting mandates. (Standard-Times)

The developer of Suffolk Downs outlined two different plans for the site depending on whether it becomes home to a second Amazon headquarters, but both include more than 7,000 units of new housing. (Boston Herald)

Leaders of 14 Boston-area cities will unveil an agreement today pledging their communities to work to increase the supply of housing. (Boston Globe)

EDUCATION

Thousands of graduate students could face a steep tax hike under the Republican tax plan working its way through Congress. (Boston Globe)

The executive director of Madison Park Technical Vocational High School has been put on leave for unspecified reasons by Boston school superintendent Tommy Chang, the latest in a string of leaders at the troubled school to come under scrutiny. (Boston Globe)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

The chairman of the board of the Mass. Eye and Ear Infirmary, Wycliffe Grousbeck, says the hospital’s merger with Partners HealthCare is necessary for it to survive and thrive. (Boston Globe)

CVS could become health care’s equivalent of Apple’s “Genius Bar” under a vision sketched out by company officials in the wake of the announcement it is acquiring health insurance giant Aetna Inc. (Boston Globe)

TRANSPORTATION

The MBTA is developing wide-ranging and expensive plans to improve the performance of buses, which currently are reliable only 65 percent of the time. (CommonWealth)

The MBTA’s director of parking left the agency on Friday after a little more than a year on the job, raising concerns that oversight of a key revenue generator for the T may once again be in turmoil. (CommonWealth)

Boston and Cambridge are among the nation’s cities with the highest percentage of households that don’t own cars. (Governing)

The Blue Line is the MBTA subway system’s chief long-range peak service concern. (CommonWealth)

The Fiscal and Management Control Board approved a plan to build 600 apartments and 228,000 square feet of commercial space as part of the planned renovation of the Quincy Center T station. (Patriot Ledger)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Chatham selectmen are questioning the $4 million price tag to expand the town’s upweller building — a nursery for shellfish — and add a new pier for commercial and recreational boats on a small town-owned waterfront parcel. (Cape Cod Times)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Former Supreme Judicial Court chief justice Margaret Marshall, in a wide-ranging interview with Jim Braude, says there ought to be some time limit on judges at all levels, either through a mandatory retirement age or term limits after a period of about 25 years. (Greater Boston)

A federal judge says prosecutors must provide defense lawyers for two aides to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh more information on why they amended the corruption charges against them. (Boston Herald)

  • Mhmjjj2012

    No, Worcester didn’t spend “$10.7 million” on its pitch for Amazon’s second headquarters. According to the linked Telegram & Gazette’s article it was $10,782.

  • Mhmjjj2012

    You’re welcome.

  • Ed Cutting, Ed. D.

    There’s a larger issue here, that of extortion. How is what Hefner allegedly did any different from what Joyce allegedly did? Better, what DiMasi was convicted of doing, along with “three of his close friends and associates”?

    Hefner allegedly was attempting quid pro quo, with the quo reportedly being a corrupt influence on the legislative process involving Rosenberg. The alleged victims apparently believed Hefner had the ability to facilitate this, and that’s where the questions about Rosenberg need to be asked.

    Furthermore, all we know about are those who reportedly said “no” — what about those who may have said “yes”? Did Rosenberg do any favors for his husband’s friends?

    And when you ask that question, this starts being about old-fashioned corruption and influence peddling.