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Updated: Stan Rosenberg Separates From Husband Amid Talk Of A Possible Senate Comeback

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Massachusetts Sen. Stan Rosenberg (center, left) talks to fellow Democratic senators, whose votes he'll need to regain the Senate presidency after stepping down from the position following an investigation into his husband, Bryon Hefner.
Mike Deehan/WGBH News

Former Massachusetts Senate President Stan Rosenberg has separated from his husband, Bryon Hefner, who is the focus of an investigation into impropriety that led Rosenberg to step down from the presidency. Distance from Hefner, who is accused of offering political influence for sex, could open a path for Rosenberg to be re-elected as leader of the Senate, The Boston Globe reported Thursday.

Rosenberg confirmed the separation Thursday after a special farewell session for former Sen. Tom McGee.

"That's personal, and [Hefner] is getting the treatment for alcohol that he needs, and that's about all there is that can be said about that," Rosenberg said.

Rosenberg previously stated that Hefner would seek treatment for alcoholism.

The Senate Ethics Committee is probing whether Rosenberg knew about Hefner trying to trade the influence of the Senate President's office for sexual favors. Rosenberg has denied that Hefner had any influence over his decisions.

The Amherst Democrat greeted and hugged several members of the Senate before McGee's speech in the House chamber. Rosenberg said later that he did not discuss "anything with regard to what's going to happen once the investigation is complete with my colleagues."

"At this point, they have been counselled that they should minimize contact with me so that we can be sure out of an abundance of caution that nothing can be said once the investigation is over that there was any interference," Rosenberg said.

Everett Sen. Sal DiDomenico is one of the senators looking to become Senate President if Rosenberg does not return. Even he says bluntly that there is a lot of respect — even love — for Rosenberg left in the Senate chamber.

"It's very difficult to find in any organization or any group of people where everyone loves their leader. And I would put Stan in that category. Everyone loves Stan Rosenberg," DiDomenico said.

DiDomenico implied that he would welcome the Amherst Democrat back as Senate President if the ethics investigation clears Rosenberg outright.

"The question that we all ask is if the investigation comes back and there is nothing there that would be a cause for concern and he was found innocent of anything the investigation was looking into, then there's a large number of senators who have expressed an interest of having him come back," DiDomenico said.

Still, he said there is a chance that another Democrat will openly challenge Rosenberg should the former president attempt to return.

"I would be surprised if that's the case, but I wouldn't be shocked," DiDomenico said.

State Sen. Harriette Chandler of Worcester was elected Acting President after Rosenberg stepped down and says she will also vacate the office when the investigation is complete.

The Globe first reported Thursday that Rosenberg and Hefner were separated and that many of Rosenberg's colleagues wish to see him return to the Senate presidency. 

DiDomenico told WGBH News that the Senate should create a new policy to handle allegations of misconduct where anyone can come forward without fear of recrimination. 

This article was updated on Jan. 11 at 8:22 p.m.

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