Prominent California gun control advocate arrested for black-market arms dealing
It’s been an interesting couple of days for the Democrat Party, from coast to coast. We’ve got the mayor of Charlotte, NC busted for rather theatrical acts of corruption. (Putting a wad of illicit cash next to his ear and fanning the bills, in front of undercover FBI agents? Sheesh.) The offices of Democrat state assemblyman William Scarborough in New York were just raided by the FBI, following allegations that he abused the state’s travel voucher system. Illinois state representative Keith Farnham resigned on Wednesday, citing “serious health issues,” one of which might be stress over the seizure of his computers in a federal child pornography investigation. And all sorts of questions are being asked about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s use of campaign funds to purchase handmade jewelry from his granddaughter, who is also apparently enjoying very favorable treatment from some big Reid donors in Nevada.
But the cake is taken by the amazing saga of California State Senator Leland Yee, a prominent gun control advocate (honored by the Brady Campaign, no less!) who was arrested by the FBI yesterday in San Francisco for allegedly participating in a gun smuggling operation, in partnership with a gangster known as “Shrimp Boy.” The relatively prosaic pay-to-play deals cut by Charlotte mayor Cannon make for drab fare compared to a tale that left the L.A. Times feeling a bit dazed:
Yee, 65, was taken into custody in San Francisco on Wednesday and was seen being loaded into an unmarked law enforcement vehicle under an umbrella, his wrists handcuffed behind his back. He was set to be released on $500,000 bond after surrendering his passport.
The affidavit paints a portrait of Yee that is by turns seedy and bumbling, and one deeply at odds with the high-minded image he had long cultivated. Yee, a candidate for secretary of state, is accused of being willing to take varied and numerous steps to solicit campaign donations and sidestep legal donation limits.
For instance, he is accused of seeking an official state Senate proclamation in the spring of 2013 praising the Ghee Kung Tong Freemason lodge in San Francisco. Yee sought the proclamation, according to the court complaint, in exchange for a $6,800 donation to one of his campaigns — a donation that was paid by an undercover FBI agent.
The organized crime figure known as Shrimp Boy, whose name is Raymond Chow, identifies himself as the “dragon head” of that Freemason organization on his Facebook page. The indictment says that Chow, 54, whose criminal history includes racketeering and robbery, has a position of “supreme authority” in the Triad, an international organized crime group.
Yee is also accused of brokering an introduction between a prospective campaign donor and state legislators who had influence over medical marijuana legislation. It allegedly came in exchange for cash campaign donations that far exceeded legal limits — and were paid by the FBI.
The affidavit says that in August 2013, a prominent California political consultant who had been working to raise money for Yee’s campaigns told a prospective donor — an undercover federal agent — that Yee “had a contact who deals in arms trafficking.”
In exchange for campaign contributions, according to the affidavit, Yee would “facilitate a meeting with the arms dealer” so that the donor could buy a large number of weapons. The firearms would be imported through a port in Newark, N.J. At one meeting, the affidavit said, Yee and the prospective donor discussed “details of the specific types of weapons.”
If this guy wasn’t a Democrat, every screenwriter in Hollywood would be banging out a film script right now. “The federal complaint reads like a bad crime novel with off-the-books firearms deals made in parking lots and confessions whispered in a booth at a karaoke bar,” opines the L.A. Times. “Chow is described as a ‘judge’ in his organization – if one member of the group kills another, it’s up to Chow to determine whether the killing was justified.”
I object only to the characterization of all this as a bad crime novel. There were apparently Freemasons involved, too. I can think of plenty of writers who would have a field day with this stuff.
“The arrest could mark the abrupt end of Yee’s prestigious and sometimes divisive political career,” ventures the Times. It’s a “stunning development that almost certainly torpedoes Yee’s quest for statewide office,” says the San Jose Mercury News. Boy, those are bold predictions. I’m not sure if I mean that comment as sarcasm or not. These are California Democrats we’re talking about, after all.
Yee wasn’t just cutting deals to put handguns in the hands of gang-bangers. The FBI affidavit alleges that he was “associated with a person who was an international arms dealer who was shipping large stockpiles of weapons into a foreign country.” Asked by undercover agents if he could provide shoulder-fired missiles, Yee asked if they wanted some automatic weapons too. Evidently the San Francisco gang’s connections included Muslim terrorists in the Philippines and Russian gangsters. Yee talked about cashing out and retiring to the Philippines if he couldn’t win his race for California Secretary of State.
The San Francisco Examiner details the good old-fashioned political corruption that went down, along with Yee’s more colorful adventures alongside Shrimp Boy:
Yee and [fundraiser Keith] Jackson allegedly raised money for campaigns, including Yee’s unsuccessful 2011 San Francisco mayoral bid and this year’s secretary of state election, by soliciting donations from undercover FBI agents in exchange for “official acts.”
Yee, who was at least $70,000 in debt after the 2011 election, and Jackson allegedly agreed that Yee would call a manager with the California Department of Public Health supporting a contract under consideration with a second undercover agent’s supposed client. Yee would provide an official letter of support for the client in exchange for a $10,000 campaign donation, according to the affidavit.
Yee allegedly made that call Oct. 18, 2012, and provided the letter on or around Jan. 13, 2013, the affidavit stated. Jackson allegedly accepted the $10,000 cash donation during that time frame.
As the the Mercury News notes, one-party Democrat governance is working out great for California:
Yee is the state’s third Democratic legislator recently targeted in corruption allegations. In February, state Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, surrendered to authorities after being indicted on bribery charges. In January, state Sen. Roderick Wright, D-Inglewood, was convicted of voter fraud and perjury stemming from a 2010 indictment.
As for that “divisive political career” the L.A. Times mentioned – but could not bring itself to detail – it included not only gun control activism, but an effort to outlaw violent video games, which ran afoul of the First Amendment. Twitchy has a nice collection of his gun control Tweets, which include the standard Democrat efforts to use high-profile crimes for political gain, assaults on the National Rifle Association, salutes to clueless former TV personality Piers Morgan, and even grumbles about the menace of guns created with 3D printers… which certainly would have cut into the profits from that gun-running operation. No matter how his day in court works out, I predict Leland Yee will be sentenced to the Memory Hole by his Party and its media operatives, post-haste.