Senator behind ethics reform package talks about McDonnell trial

RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Just like every other Virginian, State Senator Tommy Norment says he’s “just waiting for the verdict to come down” in the public corruption trial of former Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen.

Norment, who represents the 3rd senatorial district, is also the Republican Majority Leader of the Virginia Senate. But before either he or Bob McDonnell got to the General Assembly, the two were great friends. The trial has had a chilling effect on state politics, ethics reform and especially long-time friends.

“On a personal level, it is excruciating,” Norment said. “I think Bob McDonnell is a very fine man, a God-fearing man.”

And that was one point made in closing arguments for the defense — that McDonnell was a good and decent man. Even the U.S. government witnesses, who worked with McDonnell, said how much they love him and how they would like to work with him again.

During jury instructions Tuesday, Judge James Specner said a man’s good character can also create reasonable doubt, in the defense’s favor.

“If anything could be said critical of him, that perhaps he had some omissions, that he was so busy he didn’t keep his eye on all the issues going on,” Norment said.

Norment told what he thought were contributing factors, which McDonnell himself has stated.

“I think he got a little overwhelmed, some of the national attention,” Norment said. “He obviously had some marital issues … the stress of being the Governor, head of the Republican Governors, trying to pursue a Vice-Presidency nomination.”

The state senator spoke specifically about the influence by corporations in politics.

“The lesson learned is you do need to be attentive on what’s going on around you,” Norment said. “There is always someone out there, some group out there, to be supportive of their product or their legislation. You need to be very wise, and sensitive, and you need to be able to distinguish those who are really personal friends and beware the guise of friendship to influence you to do something legislatively.”

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