There are a lot of corrupt slimeballs in the Virginia General Assembly, but one of the corrupt-est and slimeball-iest has got to be Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment (R-James City). For just a small sampling of why I say that, see:
- Norment won’t discuss lobbyist relationship (” Norment wouldn’t discuss a newspaper report Friday that had him admitting, via a leaked letter, to a personal relationship with a lobbyist…Nothing in Senate rules forbids a physical or emotional relationship with a lobbyist. Neither do state ethics rules, which Norment helped craft during last year’s session and again played a major role in rewriting during this year’s session, which ended in early March. Adultery, though, is a misdemeanor under Virginia state law.”)
- Virginia’s ethical vacuum (“Sen. Thomas K. Norment Jr., Republican majority leader of Virginia’s Senate, is known for his folksy charm, snappy attire and relatively moderate politics. He’s also an avid hunter, as the tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of gifts he’s received from lobbyists suggest.”)
- Five Reasons Why Virginia Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment Hates News Media (“An affair, conflicts of interest and corporate donations dog him.”), etc, etc.
But as slimy as all that is, I’m not sure it stacks up to Norment’s latest move — sponsoring a bill that would reduce punishment for one of the most heinous/hideous/sick crimes imaginable, child pornography. That’s right: “Senate Bill 1560, introduced by Norment, would decrease the mandatory minimum imprisonment for producing child porn from five years to two and the maximum from 30 years to 20.” I’m also told Norment’s bill would created a defense to production by moving production into the possession code section. WTF, right?
Now, it’s possible that Norment is simply not a fan of mandatory minimum sentences, but if that’s the case, why doesn’t he put in legislation to reduce or eliminate all mandatory minimums in Virginia, not just those associated with child pornography production and/or possession? That’s where this gets really hard to explain. Also, as right-wing/Tea Party blog The Bull Elephant notes, if Norment cared about cracking down on child pornography, he could: 1) “bring Virginia’s laws on production of child abuse imagery up to the federal standard”; 2) “support legislation introduced by Sen. Ryan McDougle (R-Mechanicsville) to restore recently weakened sentencing guidelines for child pornography”; 3) “support sentencing enhancements that prosecutors can use to charge especially aggravated offenses”; 4) “use his power to increase funding for child victims and their families.”
Making all this even weirder is that Norment is a James City Republican, and the chairman of the James City County GOP, Charles K. Young, was recently “arrested and charged with receiving child pornography, according to United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia records.” That’s right: Young was “accused of receiving three videos and seven photos between Feb. 4, 2014, and July 27, 2014, that depict young boys under 18 engaged in sexually explicit behavior, according to court records.” Ugh.
The bottom line is that this legislation by Virginia Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment (R) is both unacceptable and also difficult to justify using almost any rationale. Want to reduce mandatory minimums in Virginia? Fine, then go ahead and do that across the board. As for child pornography, my attitude is that people involved in producing or distributing that crap can’t rot in jail long enough — basically, lock ’em up and throw away the key seems more the way to go on this one than to REDUCE sentences! But then again, this is corrupt slimeball Tommy Norment we’re talking about, so who knows what he’s thinking…