California senator Leland Yee was aggressively anti-gun, earning honors from advocacy groups for gun control legislation. Yee also won an award from one of the nation’s top organizations for media—for transparency. Now Yee faces federal charges including conspiracy to traffic in firearms without a license and to illegally import firearms.
Lee’s close associate and campaign aide Keith Jackson also faces charges relating to firearms as well as murder-for-hire.
Yee’s influence within his party and his state was indisputable. The local government page listing committees he served on is no longer available, but the Internet Archives page for the link shows Yee served on a number of powerful committees including Labor and Industrial Relations, Governmental Organization, and International Business Trade. Such memberships may have contributed to Yee’s appeal if someone wanted legislation to move.
TV Station KRON 4 (San Francisco) has covered the scandal, disclosing a lot of information about Yee’s actions in an FBI sting [underscore added] such as:
“Yee is also accused of accepting tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions and cash payments to provide introductions, help a client get a contract and influence legislation.
Yee discussed helping the agent get weapons worth $500,000 to $2.5 million, including shoulder fired automatic weapons and missiles, and took him through the entire process of getting them from a Muslim separatist group in the Philippines to the United States, according to the affidavit by FBI Special Agent Emmanuel V. Pascua.”
Yee received an award for transparency shortly before the scandal broke, with the Northern California Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists recognizing him for “his opposition to efforts to weaken the California Public Records Act by loosening disclosure requirements for local governments.”
The San Francisco Chronicle prepared an investigative article potentially linking Yee’s voting record to campaign donations. Among the disclosures in the newspaper article is an allegation that Yee solicited “$10,000 from an undercover FBI agent posing as a real estate developer who had already illegally funneled $11,000 to Yee’s campaign, telling the agent to ‘cover your tracks,’ and boasting that ‘there’s tremendous opportunity in local levels … because whoever’s gonna be the mayor controls everything.’”
The FBI filed charges against 26 defendants in the sting.
CBS San Francisco pointed out that Yee’s arrest “makes 3 scandals in 3 months for California State Senate Democrats.” Democrats control the state’s legislature.
(Filed by Kay B. Day/March 31, 2014)
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