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Friedman named to ethics panel, probing Rosenberg-Hefner

Fills seat held by DiDomenico

Friedman sworn in July 27Friedman flanked by Sen. Rosenberg and Lt. Gov. Polito after she was sworn in last July.

UPDATED, Dec. 7: Sen. Cindy F. Friedman, Democrat of Arlington, was appointed Tuesday, Dec. 5, to the state Senate Ethics Committee, which began investigating whether Stanley C. Rosenberg broke chamber rules.

The body must decide whether the Amherst Democrat has stepped aside as Senate president after last week's Boston Globe report detailing accusations from four men who alleged that Rosenberg's husband, Bryon Hefner, sexually assaulted or harassed them and who said Hefner bragged he had influence on Senate business.

Early Tuesday, YourArlington asked Friedman for comment about the Rosenberg-Hefner case. In late afternoon, her spokeswoman, Kristina Gaffny, responded: "I apologize for the delay in getting back to you. Senator Friedman was appointed as a member of the Senate Ethics Committee this morning. Due to this appointment, the senator will not be making a public statement on this matter. All public statements regarding the committee's work will be released directly from the committee."

Everett senator had eyed top slot

Friedman was named to fill the committee seat vacated by Sal N. DiDomenico of Everett. The Globe reported he had been working to position himself among his colleagues as a candidate for Senate president should the office become vacant.

"For the best interests of the Senate and myself I thought it important for me to resign so that there was no appearance of a conflict," DiDomenico told the State House News Service, The Globe reported

Over the next two weeks, the ethics committee is expected to hire an outside investigator, who will conduct the inquiry and deliver a report to the committee. The committee said it intends to release that report while protecting the confidentiality of those who provide information.

Ethics Committee Chairman Michael J. Rodrigues of Westport said in a prepared statement that he is committed to a fair and thorough investigation, as well as a process that ensures confidentiality for any person who has any information to report on sexual harassment or sexual assault.

The other members of the committee members are Democratic senators William N. Brownsberger of Belmont and Cynthia S. Creem of Newton and Republican Senators Bruce E. Tarr of Gloucester and Richard J. Ross of Wrentham.

No time frame has been set for how long the taxpayer-funded investigation will take.

A full Senate vote Monday empowered the committee to look at Rosenberg's conduct and granted it subpoena power. Rosenberg on Monday stepped down as Senate president. His majority leader, Worcester Democrat Harriette L. Chandler, took over, saying she will lead the chamber until the Senate finishes an ethics investigation

Committee statement

Kelsey Brennan, from the Rodrigues's office, released this statement from the Senate Committee on Ethics: 

"The Senate Committee on Ethics concluded its first meeting today. We unanimously agree that it is the intention of this Committee to release the report of the independent investigator, subject to the obligation in the Senate Order to maintain the confidential identity of any individual providing information to the investigator, unless the individual specifically consents.

"The immediate task before us is the screening and the selection of the independent investigator, which we expect to complete within the next two weeks. Moving forward, it is our intention to provide periodic updates to the public on relevant and important actions, including ones taken today."

Last July 27, Friedman was sworn in to the Senate at the State House, with Senate President Rosenberg presiding. Friedman was first sworn in the day before by Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito with Rosenberg and the members of the Governor's Council. 

Friedman is vice chair of the Joint Committee on Public Service and the chair of the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Use and Recovery. Newly elected Senator Paul Feeney is the chair of the Joint Committee on Public Service.

July 25, 2017: Friedman wins: Senate seat stays Democrat, in Arlington

This news summary was published Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, and updated Dec. 7, to note committee roles.

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