The whopping 137-page affidavit detailing the charges against Senator Leland Yee reveals accusations of gun-running, ties to Chinese gangs, cash-for-favors schemes and more.
California Senator Leland Yee, a vocal opponent of violent video games who sought to ban the sale of M-rated games to minors, was arrested yesterday by the FBI on charges of corruption. That's bad enough on its face, but the details of the charges are nothing short of astounding.
San Francisco Magazine broke down the huge 137-page affidavit into its most salient details, and it turns out that the senator was into some pretty crazy stuff. There's the usual bribe-taking nonsense that people generally assume most politicians are involved with to some extent, but then there's the Russian arms dealer, and the Philippine rebel groups, and his relationship with Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow, the Dragonhead of the Chee Kung Tong.
In exchanges with undercover FBI agents, Yee said he could arrange a deal for "shoulder-fired automatic weapons... equivalent to the M16," and that he would handle the arrangements personally. Political consultant Keith Jackson, Yee's fundraiser, told an agent that the senator could hook him up with an arms dealer in New Jersey in exchange for a campaign contribution, and also that Yee had another associate who was supplying "heavy weapons" to rebel groups in the Philippines. The people in question were later identified as actual arms dealers, one of whom sources his weapons from Russia.
The FBI apparently came into contact with Yee through his relationship with a Chinatown gang, presumably the Chee Kung Tong. In early 2013, Yee was introduced to an "undercover employee" of the FBI who wanted a proclamation acknowledging the Tong's 165th anniversary. Yee said he could do it but wanted to keep it on the down-low, expressing concerns that Chow would hold a press conference regarding the proclamation. "What we have to do on our side is be careful," he said. "You know, because, umm, this guy [Chow] told on his friends."
That statement, according to the affidavit, is in reference to a previous prosecution in which Chow cooperated with authorities in exchange for a reduced sentence. Yee later reiterated his concern, saying that he and Jackson shouldn't "get too close" to the Tong and clarifying that the proclamation would be "not to Shrimpboy [Chow}, but to the organization."
"He's still hot stuff," Yee said. "I just talked to some of the, you know, people who, you know, in the families, and, you know, he's still hot stuff. So we just gotta be careful, man." Nonetheless, the deal was made, the proclamation was delivered by a member of Yee's staff and the agent forked over a check for $5000.
Other agents eventually made contact with Yee and Jackson and began offering larger sums of money for more direct access to high-ranking politicians. He was offered up to $15,000 to make a call to another senator regarding pending medical marijuana legislation; when he was later asked why it was taking so long to get the wheels turning, he called it "pay-to-play" and then later offered perhaps the choicest quote in the whole document: "Just give me the goddamn money, man, shit... You should just tell them, write some fucking checks, man."
And thus we come to the inescapable and gloriously ironic conclusion: Senator Leland Yee is a Grand Theft Auto character. Who'da thunk it?
While Yee is innocent until proven guilty, his career as a legislator is likely over, as Senate Leader Darrell Steinberg gave him the option of either resigning or being booted out. "We're going to demand that Leland Yee... leave the Senate and leave it now," Steinberg said. If Yee refuses to go voluntarily, Steinberg said the Senate will suspend him during its next session.