This article was first published at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, March 28, 2014:
The headlines are right out of a John Grisham or Tom Clancy novel, only these authors couldn’t have come up with anything like this:
“Senator Charged with Trafficking in Sweeping FBI Probe”
“Senator Released on $500,000 bond, Stripped of Passport”
“Senator’s Arrest casts Light on Corruption case”
“Senator Indicted on Corruption Charges”
In California on Wednesday, the FBI arrested State Senator Leland Yee on seven counts of political corruption and gun trafficking, along with 25 other individuals involved in the schemes. Also snared was Lee’s campaign finance manager, Keith Jackson, and Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, the head of a notorious and vicious Chinese criminal syndicate that the FBI has been trying to bring down for years.
The FBI’s prime target was Chow, but they got lucky, snaring Yee and Jackson along the way.
Yee was the left’s fair-haired boy. The fact that he was Chinese (born in Taishan, China, but moving to San Francisco at age three) just added to the glamor. Educated in only the finest of liberal universities – UC Berkeley, San Francisco State University, and the University of Hawaii – he had a knack for winning elections and successfully promoting progressive causes. He served on San Francisco’s school board (along with Jackson, who briefly served as president) in the early ’90s, became a District Supervisor, and from there was elected District Assemblyman in 2003. In 2006 he got elected as state senator and from then until Wednesday he had offered 181 bills. Of them he was able to get 138 signed into law.
The only election he ever lost was when he tried for Mayor of San Francisco in 2011, which left him both defeated and broke. In fact, he was $70,000 in debt. When he decided to run for California Secretary of State, he had a problem: how to pay off his previous campaign debt and raise money for his new one.
Enter Jackson, who took on the role of Yee’s finance manager. Jackson had some connections – just the kind of people who would pay for entry and introductions to power players that Yee could arrange. So he began to milk those connections inside Chow’s criminal organization without knowing that he was dealing with FBI agents who had assimilated themselves into it in order to bring down Chow.
The 137-page affidavit reads just like Grisham:
During the time frame from at least May 2011 through the present, Keith Jackson has been involved in raising campaign funds for Senator Yee. This includes raising funds for Senator Yee’s campaign during Senator Yee’s run in the San Francisco mayoral election on November 8, 2011; to retire Senator Yee’s debt from [that] mayoral campaign; and for Senator Yee’s current campaign in the California Secretary of State election to be held in November 2014….
In connection with efforts to retire the mayoral campaign debt, Senator Yee and Keith Jackson agreed that Senator Yee would make a telephone call to a manager with the California Department of Public Health in support of a contract under consideration with [the FBI agent’s] purported client, and would provide an official letter in support of the client, in exchange for a $10,000 campaign donation. Senator Yee made the call on October 18, 2012, and provided the letter…. On November 19, 2012, Keith Jackson accepted the $10,000 cash donation from [the agent] who was paying Keith Jackson and Senator Yee the money on behalf of [another FBI agent].
This was just one of six examples of Yee’s perfidy with the help of Jackson. The seventh was pure evil: arranging for Muslim terrorist groups to funnel fully automatic M-16s into the United States through the Port of Newark, New Jersey, in exchange for help with his campaign’s finances. Here’s this from the affidavit:
In a further attempt of Keith Jackson and Senator Yee to gain more money from [the FBI agent], Keith Jackson told [the agent] that Senator Yee had a contact who deals in arms trafficking. This purported arms dealer was later identified.
Jackson requested that [the FBI agent] provide a campaign donation on behalf of Senator Yee, for Senator Yee to facilitate meeting with the arms dealer with the intent of [the FBI agent] to purportedly purchase a large number of weapons to be imported through the Port of Newark, New Jersey.
During a meeting [including the agent], Senator Yee, and Keith Jackson, Senator Yee discussed certain details of the specific types of weapons [the agent] was interested in buying and importing.
This from a senator who had built his reputation as one promoting transparency and as a rabid anti-gunner. Case in point: when he offered a bill to close a perceived loophole in California’s already onerous assault weapons law, Yee said: “It is extremely important that individuals in the state of California do not own assault weapons. I mean that is just so crystal clear, there is no debate, no discussion.”
In 2006, Yee was the first to offer the bill to require micro-stamping on handguns and their ammunition. In response, the Brady Campaign added Yee’s name to their Gun Violence Prevention Honor Roll.
And just a week before his arrest, Yee received an award from the Society for Professional Journalists for his work fostering – ready? – government transparency!
Each felony carries with it a penalty of $250,000 and 20 years in jail. Yee is 65. Do the math. Lee will never again see the light of day as a free man.
Neither will Jackson, whose indictment includes working a murder-for-hire scheme along with other charges. And Chow? He’s been on the FBI’s watch list for years, with a rap sheet that includes attempted murder, bribery, laundering money, prostitution, and gun-running.
When Yee’s attorney announced that Yee would be pleading innocent, the reporters, astonished, asked if he had actually read all the charges yet. The attorney admitted that he hadn’t. Once he has, he might just advise his client to give it up, do not pass Go, do not collect $200, but go immediately to jail.
The troubles for the state senate president pro-tem Darrell Steinberg continued to mount. Not only did he have to deal with the Yee arrest, he’s already had to deal with two other senate miscreants who had been carted off just since the first of the year: State Senator Roderick Wright, who was convicted in January of voter fraud and perjury, and State Senator Ron Calderone, who was just indicted on charges of bribery and money laundering linked to another federal sting operation. Exclaimed Steinberg:
I am angry. I’m angry on behalf of the people and I’m angry on behalf of the 37 [remaining] members [of the senate] whose hard work every day on behalf of the people is being tarnished….
There were 40 at the beginning of the year. If this keeps up, it won’t be long before there won’t be any senators left with images to tarnish.
This is campaign fodder for one of Yee’s opponents for Secretary of State, Derek Cressman, who said:
We are clearly beyond the point of looking at [just] one bad apple and instead [we are] looking at a corrupt institution in the California senate.
If Pressman wins in November, one wonders if he’ll be able to clean out the Augean stable in the senate on his own. In the meantime, Yee, Jackson, and Chow will be able to contemplate their futures in the peace and quiet of their jail cells.
Christian Science Monitor: Calif. State Sen. Leland Yee accused of firearms trafficking
San Francisco Examiner: State Sen. Leland Yee arrest casts light on complex corruption case
Los Angeles Times: Sen. Yee charged with trafficking firearms in sweeping FBI probe