Anti-gun California State Senator Charged With Gun Trafficking

By:  Bob Adelmann
Anti-gun California State Senator Charged With Gun Trafficking

In a move that surprised nearly everyone who knows him, California State Senator Leland Yee was arrested by the FBI on March 26 on felony charges ranging from gun trafficking to soliciting illegal campaign contributions in exchange for political favors.

At about the time Yee was released on a $500,000 bond, California State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg called for him to resign or else be suspended. Steinberg also removed Yee from all his committee positions.

A remarkably successful politician for years, Yee suffered only one loss — his unsuccessful bid for mayor of San Francisco in 2011, leaving him $70,000 in debt. When he decided to run for secretary of state in November, following the end of his term as state senator, Yee was under financial pressure.

The 137-page FBI affidavit against Yee spells out in excruciatingly painful detail how the FBI, in its years-long attempt to bring down gang kingpin Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, had infiltrated Chow’s organization and discovered the link between Yee and his longtime friend and campaign finance manager Keith Jackson. Jackson and Yee served together on the San Francisco Board of Education together, and Jackson even served as school board president for a time. Jackson needed funds to support Yee’s campaign, and Chow’s organization looked to be the perfect place to obtain them.

So, in trying to bring down the big fish, the FBI got lucky and brought down an even bigger one.

Yee’s success as a politician was legendary. From 2006 to the present, he presented 181 bills and saw 138 of them signed into law. He served, up until March 26, on 10 different senate committees and chaired three others. He was opposed to violent video games such as Grand Theft Auto, holding that they were training grounds to inoculate youngsters against violence, and he was also notoriously anti-gun. At one point, while promoting the closing of a so-called loophole in California’s already onerous assault weapons ban, he 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 named to the Gun Violence Prevention Honor Roll at the Brady Campaign for his efforts to promote micro-stamping on handguns and ammunition. And just last week Yee received an award from the Society for Professional Journalists for his work fostering government transparency.

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Photo of Leland Yee: AP Images

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