|Majority Leader of the Virginia Senate|
June 12, 2014
January 12, 2012 - January 28, 2014
|Member of the Virginia Senate|
from the 3rd district
January 8, 1992
|William E. Fears|
Thomas Kent Norment Jr.
April 12, 1946
Richmond, Virginia, U.S.
|Education||Virginia Military Institute (BS)|
College of William & Mary (JD)
Thomas Kent Norment Jr. (born April 12, 1946) is an American politician serving as the Majority Leader of the Senate of Virginia. He has served in the Virginia General Assembly since 1992. A Republican, he represents the 3rd district of the Virginia Senate, which includes parts of the Virginia Peninsula, plus King and Queen County, King William County, New Kent County and Gloucester County on the Middle Peninsula.
In 2008, Norment requested an opinion from Attorney General Bob McDonnell stating "at no time will I assume a relationship of 'attorney-client' that would result in the exercising of any attorney client privilege or any work product privilege. It is my understanding the College would continue to rely upon legal services through the Office of Attorney General." Attorney General McDonnell concludes his opinion to Norment that "it is my opinion that you do not have an impermissible conflict of interest under the Act based on the facts herein." McDonnell writes "I affirm the intention that your relationship with the College will not be that of attorney and client."
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, released the Norment opinion to the public and issued a press release on September 2, 2011. The press release states the following: "Recent public statements made by state Senator Thomas Norment suggest that for the past several years, he assumed a role of legal counsel for the College of William & Mary. One of his reported statements also incorrectly implied that a 2008 opinion he requested from the Office of the Attorney General affirmed that such an arrangement would be acceptable under the law."
Initially a Democrat, Norment won election to the James City County Board of Supervisors as a Republican and served from 1987-1991. He was elected to the state Senate in 1991, defeating Democrat Bill Fears with 54% of the vote. Norment was unopposed for re-election in 1995, re-elected with 63% of the vote in 1999, re-elected with 62% of the vote in 2003, re-elected unopposed in 2007 and 2011, and re-elected with 70% of the vote in 2015. Norment has led the Virginia Senate Republican caucus since 2008.
In January 2001, Norment was charged with driving under the influence after he was pulled over on Interstate 64 outside Richmond with a blood alcohol content of 0.10. He apologized from the floor of the Senate to his constituents and colleagues two days later, saying, "I offer no excuses, no avoidances of responsibility. I do, however, offer my sincere and contrite apologies for any embarrassment or shadow I may have cast over the integrity and dignity of this body."
In April 2015 a letter from 2013 was made public, the letter written by Norment to the Virginia State Bar, saying that he had previously had an extramarital relationship with a female lobbyist. Norment was responding to allegations from an unsatisfied legal client, Christopher Burruss, who attempted to extort Norment by revealing Norment's earlier sexual impropriety. Rather than comply with Burruss' demands, Norment turned the evidence over to the Virginia State Bar. Burruss was convicted of extortion and sentenced to two years in prison. Norment reported that his marriage had recovered from the affair, but he later divorced. The lobbyist's name, Angie Bezik, was withheld from news reports until 2018 when Norment announced he was engaged to marry her. Norment restricted press access to the Virginia Senate in 2016, a move that observers saw as catalyzed by the negative press coverage of his affair.
In August 2015, Norment's name and personal information appeared on the hacked Ashley Madison servers, showing one payment of $68.99 and two payments of $79. Clients of the dating service were required to pay to initiate a conversation with another client, and male clients paid to read the first messages from female clients. Norment declined to comment.
Former students of his at William and Mary in the 2010s accuse Norment in 2019 of teaching racist material and making racist and transphobic statements in class.
In February 2019, it was revealed that Norment was an editor of the 1968 Virginia Military Institute yearbook that showed students in Ku Klux Klan attire, blackface, and listed them with racially offensive nicknames, which came to light in the context of the 2019 Virginia political crisis. Norment does not appear in any of the yearbook photos and issued a statement saying he condemned the use of blackface and said his role was ensuring writers and photographers made their submissions on time and that he was "still culpable, but it is by association with a team that produced that yearbook with those photos". Norment pointed out that page 236 of the same yearbook shows he supported the racial integration of VMI in 1968, and led an effort to enroll women there in 1997.