In a stunning criminal complaint, State Sen. Leland Yee has been charged with conspiring to traffic in firearms and public corruption as part of a major FBI operation spanning the Bay Area, casting yet another cloud of corruption over the Democratic establishment in the Legislature and torpedoing Yee’s aspirations for statewide office.
Yee and an intermediary allegedly met repeatedly with an undercover FBI agent, soliciting campaign contributions in exchange for setting up a deal with international arms dealers.
At their first face-to-face meeting in January, “Senator Yee explained he has known the arms dealer for a number of years and has developed a close relationship with him,” an FBI affidavit says, noting Yee told the agent the arms dealer “has things that you guys want.”
I’ve seen parts of the complaint and it’s pretty stunning. If the FBI’s account is to be believed — and I’ll grant that’s a reach — there is no question about what he was doing, or at least promising. It’s possible that, like a lot of politicians, he was talking a bunch of shit to get campaign contributions and had no idea how to smuggle their guns into Africa. In fact, I think it’s quite likely this was the case. After all, it wasn’t like the gun runners were going to sue him if he couldn’t deliver the contacts.
Now … does it surprise you that this guy was a huge gun control advocate? That he was honored by the Brady Campaign for his efforts? That he wanted to crack down on bullet buttons and 3-D printed guns and “assault weapons”? That he even advocated against violent video games? As Walter Olson quipped:
Maybe Sen. Yee came down so hard on private gun dealers because he wanted to muscle into the business himself.
The stunning thing is that the papers are indicating that everyone knew Yee was dirty. But, as with Bob Filner, they overlooked it because he was a powerful Democrat pushing issues they cared about.
I don’t expect this to get as much coverage as we see when an obscure Republican candidate for dog catcher does something hypocritical. But this is pretty stunning. And very likely the tip of the iceberg.