OPINION | Barry Richard: Senate Probe Must Be Transparent
The Massachusetts Senate Ethics Committee has launched a probe into the latest allegations of corruption on Beacon Hill. This scandal involves the now former Senate President Stanley Rosenberg (D-Amherst), whose husband, Bryon Hefner is accused of groping as many as four men while allegedly claiming to have influence on Senate business because of his relationship with Rosenberg.
The Ethics Committee, chaired by Senator Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport), has been charged by the full senate with conducting an investigation to determine whether Rosenberg violated senate rules or the law. It is important to note that Rosenberg has not been accused of any wrongdoing. Nothing. Ziltch.
Rodrigues issued a statement saying the panel, consisting of four Democrats and two Republicans would appoint an independent investigator to lead the probe and then get out of the way while the investigation is conducted;
"Our role as committee members is not to conduct the investigation, but rather set in pace the mechanisms for discovering the truth and allowing this investigator to proceed without delay or any impediments by this committee."
The only potential criminal activity alleged at this time involves Hefner and this week Attorney General Maura Healy and Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley say they are prepared to open a criminal investigation if anyone came forward with allegations of sexual assault against Hefner.
Rodrigues has so far declined several invitations to appear on my program to discuss the scope of the investigation. New Bedford's Senator Mark Montigny has yet to return calls from WBSM for comment on the matter.
An independent investigation is going to cost taxpayers millions at a time when no accusations have even been made against Rosenberg. But, given the history of political corruption on Beacon Hill, the last three house speakers have resigned in disgrace, an investigation is necessary.
Governor Charlie Baker says an investigator should be named this week and I agree. The investigation should commence immediately and not be allowed to drag on for an extended period of time, if necessary criminal charges should be pursued.
Senators Rodrigues and Montigny should be available to their constituents to openly discuss the process and should demand that all of the details of the investigation are made public.
Massachusetts residents are all too familiar with corrupt government and must demand better. The time has come to drain the swamp, but it can only be done if the people participate in the system to bring about change.
Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3pm. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.