Critical Intel

Critical Intel
The Senator Yee Affidavit: Bribery, Triads, Drugs, and Arms Deals

Robert Rath | 3 Apr 2014 12:00
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Part Two: Debt

To probe Yee and Jackson's corruption, Agent 99 introduced Jackson to his "friend" Agent 73, who presented himself as a real estate developer who also represented a variety of investors and clients. Though based in Atlanta, 73 told Jackson he was eager to expand his business interests to the Bay Area, and wanted to make political contacts that could help him. Jackson attended one of Yee's fundraisers and wrote him a check for $500 on the spot - the monetary limit for individual donations.

The next day, Yee left a stuttering, uncomfortable voicemail on Agent 73's answering machine: "[I] appreciate the conversation and then, hopefully, um, you know, there are things that uh, we can do to be of help uh, to you, and uh, but anyway just wanted to reach out and say thank you very, very much." In a subsequent call, Yee hinted at assisting 73 with an affordable housing development if elected, but said that he couldn't talk policy at the same time as asking for money. He then asked 73 to raise $5,000 to $10,000 for the campaign.

Trying to bait Yee into making the quid-pro-quo agreement explicit, Agent 73 wrote $5,000 campaign donation check made payable to Jackson's consulting firm (so Jackson could make it look like individual $500 donations), and later raised a further $5,000 a fundraising event stuffed with undercover FBI agents. Both times he insisted to Senator Yee that it was "too much money... not to get something."

At this point, Yee started to get spooked. Another mayoral candidate had gotten caught taking donations over the $500 limit and Yee insisted that both he and Agent 73 had to cover their tracks. Yee suggested that instead of giving the contributions to him, 73 should back a school funding ballot measure that featured Senator Yee in one of its commercials. Throughout, the Senator insisted that were he elected he could help out 73's business interests, saying that if he won, "we control $6.8 billion, shit."

Luckily for Yee, he never made a specific promise that would make a bribery charge an open-and-shut case.

He also lost the election.

His plans for the mayor's office dashed, Yee switched focus: he wanted to stand for the Secretary of State election in November, 2014. But to do that on the back of a failed mayoral race would mean a huge investment in capital - he and Jackson would need to retire $70,000 in campaign debt before raising money for the Secretary of State race. For help, he and Jackson turned to their most trusted donor: Agent 73.

Over the next six months, Jackson continued to pump 73 for donations with 73 only providing $5,000 initially, and holding out the rest to "get something." In April, the three met at a Starbucks to discuss Agent 73's business interests, and they settled on one company in particular: a software consulting company named "Well Tech." In June, Agent 73 and a crew of undercover agents met with Yee to tell him about the company, and Yee suggested that were he elected, he could possibly get them a contract to refurbish the antiquated computer systems in the elections division. He also pressed for more donations.

Though Yee insisted he was setting up meetings for Well Tech, the Feds couldn't wait. Agent 73 contacted Yee and said that Well Tech was meeting with officials from the health department on a possible contract. He wanted Yee to make a call and endorse them. Agent 73 offered Yee $10,000 and he agreed.

A week later the plan morphed - this time 73 insisted that a written endorsement from Yee would be much better than a call. Yee considered it, but ultimately got nervous. The Senator didn't want to put it in writing, Jackson explained. "You just, he, he, he, didn't want it to seem like he's telling somebody, another state employee, that he just, they have to give you guys the contract. Just in case somebody else got upset about that, then it's public information." He reiterated, though, that the Senator would make a phone call.

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