What’s the standard for Rosenberg?
We have, it seems, crossed the Rubicon in Massachusetts politics regarding sexual harassment with the latest allegations against the husband of Senate President Stan Rosenberg.
The bombshell story Thursday from Boston Globe columnist – and one-time State House reporter – Yvonne Abraham gave salacious details of Bryon Hefner grabbing, groping, and kissing advocates and lobbyists reliant on the Senate president’s good will to advance their agendas. They felt, they all told Abraham, powerless to complain lest they fall out of favor with the powerful pol, which in some cases they said gave Hefner license to repeat his uninvited assaults.
The story has all the titillating elements and uncomfortable aspects to make it a much bigger story. There have always been murmurs about the marriage of Rosenberg, 68, to the 30-year-old Hefner, who has been the focus of a number of stories highlighting his boasting about his influence. He was alleged to be the author of a number of tweets several years ago disparaging then-Senate president Therese Murray and he dallied with a run for the Legislature before Rosenberg put a clamp on it and him.
Rosenberg declared he would create a “firewall” between his marriage and his work but, from the stories related by Hefner’s alleged victims, it was a pretty porous wall, as Howie Carr, uncharacteristically subdued, relatively speaking, pointed out with glee.
Rosenberg issued a statement agreeing to an investigation but refused to answer questions in person. A Boston Herald reporter knocked on his door Thursday night but, through the closed portal, Rosenberg shouted it was “disrespectful” to expect him to answer questions “before I’ve had any chance to process” the allegations. But both he and Hefner provided Abraham with statements for the story so he clearly knew hours in advance what was coming down the Pike.
On Wednesday, Rosenberg was on Boston Herald Radio touting his six-member, all-female panel to review the Senate’s policy regarding sexual harassment led by Sen. Harriett Chandler. Chandler, who dodged reporters when the story first broke and then announced a special investigator would be brought in to handle the Hefner probe and make recommendations.
Gov. Charlie Baker, who has had a good working relationship with Rosenberg, and Attorney General Maura Healey immediately joined the call for an investigation. But just what will they be investigating? None of the victims ever filed police reports and at this point it appears they are still reluctant. Hefner is not a public employee, so there’s no sanctions coming his way.
So the question becomes, is Rosenberg being held to an impossible standard in his spouse’s behavior? Some are already speculating that Rosenberg may – even should – resign. Abraham’s column went to great lengths to point out that Rosenberg seemed unaware of Hefner’s alleged predation but several of the incidents supposedly occurred with Rosenberg nearby, either at a table or in the car.
But, still, other than failing to corral or admonish him, what would be the responsibility for Rosenberg? With accusations against other politicians, save for Hillary Clinton, only the most craven hold the spouse responsible. Is Rosenberg’s sexual orientation causing people to look at it differently?
Which brings up another sad question. There is little to force Rosenberg to resign from the Senate but it will be hard to hold onto the presidency, something he’s worked for and coveted for years. His political career has been important to him because he was in the closet for so long and had little social life to come home to. He has said his relationship with Hefner opened up new horizons as he entered his later years. He now has to come to terms with the fact he may be married to a sexual predator who could cost him much more than political stature.
The Legislature approved a measure extending by nearly a year the deadline for a commission to report back on whether the state’s public records law ought to be extended to include the Legislature, governor’s office, and the judiciary. (Boston Globe)
Latest from Troopergate: Less than 40 minutes after the arrest, a State Police captain alerted a supervisor that the daughter of a local judge had been locked up, an apparent indication that the case received special attention in the department. (Boston Herald)
The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities slashes a rate hike sought by Eversource Energy, but approves some investments for electric vehicle charging and battery storage. (CommonWealth)
The House approved a spending bill that includes $25 million to help pay for a new police station in Lawrence. (Eagle-Tribune)
Mayor Marty Walsh orders an outside audit of student activity accounts in the Boston Public Schools following a federal investigation that uncovered widespread misuse of the fees. (Boston Globe)
Walsh refused to say whether he will sign or veto an ordinance passed unanimously this week by the Boston City Council banning plastic bags at supermarkets and convenience stores. (WGBH News)
Raynham police are investigating whether the chief hit a woman with his SUV at a confusing multi-car crash that resulted from a high-speed chase that began in Easton. (The Enterprise)
Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn will plead guilty to lying to the FBI in the investigation into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. (New York Times)
Republican Senate leaders are working to push a tax-cut bill over line, despite a report yesterday from the Joint Committee on Taxation that the measure would balloon the federal deficit by $1 trillion. (Boston Globe) A Globe editorial urges New England’s lone Republican senator, Susan Collins of Maine, to oppose the bill.
An Army veteran is the latest to accuse Sen. Al Franken of sexual misconduct, saying the then-comedian grabbed her breast when she met him on a tour in Kuwait. (U.S. News & World Report)
Michael Jonas examines the race for the congressional seat being vacated by Niki Tsongas and finds another situation where the likely winner of the crowded Democratic primary probably won’t receive the support of a majority of voters. (CommonWealth)
State Rep. Geoffrey Diehl, one of the few Massachusetts politicians who endorsed Donald Trump during the presidential campaign, said he will not call Sen.Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas” in his challenge for her seat but said her claim of Native American ancestry is an issue. (The Enterprise)
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh tried — unsuccessfully — to get former House colleague David Nangle to consider backing his former aide Dan Koh just as Nangle was about to join Lowell’s other two state reps in throwing their support behind Lori Trahan in the scramble for the congressional seat opening up because of the the retirement of US Rep. Niki Tsongas. (Boston Globe)
A Lowell Sun editorial urges a yes vote on a referendum question that would overturn a plan to run and maintain the city’s play fields.
The companies behind a comic convention in Hanover are being sued for trademark infringement by the organizers of an annual anime festival in Boston, saying the name of the South Shore event is purposely similar to the Boston fest that draws tens of thousands of attendees and is intended to portray a connection between the two. (Patriot Ledger)
MassDevelopment has voted to take over management at the New Bedford State Pier, completing a promise made by Gov. Charlie Baker in the spring. (Standard-Times)
A Rhode Island company says it will invest $100 million into redeveloping all 29 properties occupied by Benny’s when the discount chain closes the doors of its last handful of stores after Christmas. (Cape Cod Times)
Tom Birmingham of the Pioneer Institute argues the state should make good on a requirement for history instruction and testing. (CommonWealth)
Developer Ron Druker is donating $15 million to the Harvard Graduate School of Design, which will name the first-floor gallery in its main building after him. (Boston Globe)
Partners HealthCare and Massachusetts Eye and Ear, in a filing with a state watchdog, denied that acquisition of the specialty hospital by the state’s largest provider network would significantly boost health care costs for consumers. (Boston Globe)
The MBTA is considering offering discounts and expanding shuttle services to offset riders’ fears when the agency closes its Wollaston Red Line station in Quincy for repairs beginning Jan. 2. (Patriot Ledger)
Peter Pan Bus Lines eliminates a stop at the Holyoke Mall because of a shortage of riders. (MassLive)
A Berkshire Eagle editorial urges Pittsfield officials to get on with it in passing a trash pickup plan that curbs the amount of trash put out at the curb.
Roughly 7,500 drug convictions across the state will be dismissed because the state chemist who was charged with drug testing in the cases was instead stealing drugs. (Boston Herald)
MEDIA/ARTSNine women accused noted North Shore playwright Israel Horovitz of sexual misconduct. (New York Times)
The New York Times cuts in half (10 down to 5) the number of stories on its website that can be read for free. (Bloomberg)