Cost of senate ethics investigation remains mystery

Attorneys Anthony Fuller, Jody Newman, and Natashia Tidwell of Hogan Lovells US LLP are leading the Senate Ethics Committee investigation into Sen. Stanley Rosenberg.

BOSTON — The legal team hired by the Senate Ethics Committee is in its third week of work on an investigation into former Senate President Stanley Rosenberg and while the work is unsurprisingly top secret, the payment arrangement for the attorneys also remains a mystery.

The committee on Dec. 18 announced it had chosen Hogan Lovells US LLP to investigate whether Rosenberg violated Senate rules in connection with allegations that his husband, Bryon Hefner, sexually assaulted men with business pending on Beacon Hill and claimed to weild influence over Senate business.

Hogan Lovells attorneys Anthony Fuller, Jody Newman and Natashia Tidwell, all based in the firm's Boston office, were announced as the chief investigators.

The News Service has subsequently tried to learn how much the outsourced investigation may cost Massachusetts taxpayers.

A spokesman for Senate President Harriette Chandler, who was elected to the post after Rosenberg stepped down from it while the investigation unfolds, said the investigators will be paid with existing Senate funds and that expenditures will be reported by the state comptroller.

"Any further information regarding the investigation and its funding will be released by the Ethics Committee - per the confidentiality of the investigation," Chandler spokesman Kevin Connor said in a statement to the News Service on Wednesday.

A review this week of Senate spending records published through the Comproller's website did not appear to include any expenditures for Hogan Lovells.

Kelsey Brennan, spokeswoman for Ethics Committee Chairman Sen. Michael Rodrigues, had no additional information about the payment arrangement and deferred back to Connor's statement, as well as one released by the committee when it hired Hogan Lovells.

When it hired the law firm on Dec. 18, the committee said in a statement: "To protect the integrity of that process, the Committee does not anticipate issuing any further public statements until the special investigator completes the investigation and submits a report to the Committee. We have asked that the special investigator submit that report as soon as practicable, without sacrificing thoroughness or attention to detail."

On Dec. 19, the committee announced Hogan Lovells had established a dedicated email address and toll-free hotline to allow individuals to confidentially share information with investigators. "The cost of these confidential resources - like all costs related to the investigation - will be paid from existing Senate funds, which can be tracked through the Comptroller's public website," the committee said at the time.

On Dec. 5, the day the Ethics Committee convened publicly to outline its plan to address the situation, Rodrigues said in a statement, "Let me also be very clear that it is the independent investigator who will be charged with doing this job and that the Ethics Committee's role is to set in motion the apparatus and funding necessary for that job to be done impartially and without regard to the consequences."

The Legislature is not subject to the open meeting or public records law.

"We can't comment on the payment arrangment," Maria Woehr, public relations manager for Hogan Lovells US LLP, told the News Service Thursday.