Politics

Former Senate President Stan Rosenberg and Bryon Hefner Are Separating

Bryon Hefner is under investigation for sexual misconduct.

December 1, 2017 photo via State House News Service/Sam Doran

Former Senate President Stan Rosenberg is apparently separating from his husband Bryon Hefner in the wake of sexual harassment and assault allegations against Hefner.

The news comes courtesy of a report from the Boston Globe‘s Frank Phillips on the path for Rosenberg to retake his old job, and MassLive has also confirmed the split. Hefner and Rosenberg married in September of 2016. They have not begun divorce proceedings, and it’s not clear if or when they might do so. Hefner is currently undergoing treatment for substance abuse.

Late last year, allegations emerged that Hefner had propositioned, harassed, or assaulted a handful of men on Beacon Hill who had business before state government. He is alleged to have bragged about his sway over his husband and offered to trade political favors for sexual ones. Rosenberg has said he was surprised by the accusations, and said if Hefner was behaving that way, he didn’t know about it. He has also said that if Hefner told people he could influence the Senate, “he should not have said that. It is simply not true.”

Rosenberg has stepped aside from his position as senate president, and Senator Harriette Chandler has been installed in his place, while probes led by an independent investigator for the Senate Ethics Committee and by Attorney General Maura Healey are underway. The FBI has also reportedly begun poking around in the case.

Phillips reports the vibe at the State House suggests it’s increasingly likely that Rosenberg, who remains popular and well-respected by his peers, will reclaim his position once the investigation concludes.

It’s not exactly surprising that Rosenberg would separate from Hefner, and political observers—among them Boston contributor David Bernstein—note it’s a necessary move if he hopes to move back into his old office from the one he currently occupies in the State House’s basement.

But it’s surely a challenging decision to make for the former Senate President. Rosenberg, 68, has been involved with Hefner since 2008, and credits him for helping him come out as a gay man. Hefner also cared for Rosenberg during his bout with cancer.

Their relationship also survived controversy in 2014, when Hefner’s behavior on social media prompted a backlash from Rosenberg’s colleagues and a pledge from the Senator to maintain a “firewall” between his husband and government. In a December news conference, Rosenberg, fighting tears, called this ordeal “the most difficult time in my political life and in my personal life.”


Spencer Buell Staff Writer at Boston Magazine sbuell@bostonmagazine.com