The ironies in this case are just delicious. California state senator Leland Yee, along with fellow Democrats, pushed SB 374, which would have banned Californians from owning semi-automatic firearms of all types, a law which Governor Jerry Brown had to veto. According to the FBI, Yee needed a lot of money after his losing mayoral bid in San Francisco, and turned to another career — arms trafficking with organized crime. However, Yee ended up trying to cut his deal with a government informant — and now faces federal charges on both arms trafficking and corruption:
A California state senator who advocated gun control legislation asked for campaign donations in exchange for introducing an undercover FBI agent to an arms trafficker and told him how to get shoulder-fired automatic weapons and missiles from a Muslim separatist group in the Philippines, according to court documents unsealed Wednesday.
The allegations against state Sen. Leland Yee were outlined in an FBI affidavit in support of a criminal complaint. The affidavit accuses Yee of conspiracy to deal firearms without a license and to illegally import firearms. He was arrested Wednesday and appeared later in federal court, where bail was set at $500,000. …
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. He or members of his campaign staff accepted at least $42,800 in cash or campaign contributions from undercover FBI agents in exchange for carrying out the agents’ specific requests, the court documents allege.
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 acquiring them from a Muslim separatist group in the Philippines to bringing them to the United States, according to the affidavit by FBI Special Agent Emmanuel V. Pascua.
Just how much did Yee push gun control in California? He’s one of the gun-control lobby’s staunchest figures in the legislature, which has gun-rights advocates bitterly amused at Yee’s hypocrisy now:
The round-up by the FBI includes 25 other accused in the conspiracy, some with gangland ties:
The affidavit names Yee and 25 others, including Raymond Chow, a onetime gang leader with ties to San Francisco’s Chinatown known as “Shrimp Boy,” and Keith Jackson, Yee’s campaign aide. Jackson is accused of multiple counts of fraud and conspiracy to commit fraud.
Chow and Yee were arrested Wednesday during a series of raids in Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area.
According to court documents, Yee performed “official acts” in exchange for donations from undercover FBI agents, as he sought to dig himself out of a $70,000 debt incurred during a failed San Francisco mayoral bid.
Yee is also accused of accepting $10,000 in January 2013 from an undercover FBI agent in exchange for making a call to the California Department of Public Health in support of a contract was considering.
The agent who discussed arms with Yee presented himself as a member of Ghee Kung Tong, a fraternal organization in San Francisco’s Chinatown that Chow reportedly headed. It was among the sites searched Wednesday.
The interesting twist on this, politically speaking, will be how Democrats in the California state senate handle Yee. So far, they have resisted calls to expel a Democratic member convicted of eight counts of corruption in attempting to preserve their supermajority and avoid having to work with Republicans on legislation. If they refuse to eject Yee — and they probably will — California Republicans will have a field day in the 2014 elections discussing Democratic corruption and power-greed. It’s not going to be an especially good year for Democrats anyway, and protecting Yee won’t improve matters.