Leland Yee Accused of Buying Campaign Donations With Political Favors and Brokering an Arms Deal

As we reported earlier today, Leland Yee, author of the 2005 anti-video game law that was shot down by the Supreme Court in the landmark Brown v EMA decision, was arrested this morning on charges of bribery and corruption.

But inquiring minds want to know what specifically Yee allegedly did and an unsealed FBI affidavit dishes the dirt.

Did you see American Hustle?  It's kind of like that except Yee reads as a bit more unscrupulous than Jeremy Renner's character.

Starting in May 2011, Yee solicited individuals (who turned out to be undercover FBI agents) to make campaign donations in excess of the legal individual donation limits in exchange for political favors.  What kind of favors?

In the fall of 2012, in exchange for a $10,000 campaign donation to help pay down the debt from his failed mayoral campaign (the legal limit on individual donations applied to retiring such a debt is $500), Yee put in a good word with the Department of Public Health and wrote an official letter of support for a software consulting company that desired to expand into the San Francisco Bay area.  

On March 29, 2013, in exchange for a $6,800 campaign donation towards his bid for Secretary of State, Yee had a staff member present an official State Senate proclamation on his behalf at the Chee Kung Tong's 165th anniversary dinner.  What's the Chee Kung Tong?  Essentially the Chinese mafia.  Seriously.

During the summer of 2013, Yee introduced a medical marijuana businessman to two state legislators that could help him expand his business into California in exchange for $21,000-worth of donations to his campaign for Secretary of State.  In this case, $6800 is the legal limit for individual donors.

In an attempt to solicit even more donations, from August 2013 right up until about two weeks ago, Yee tried to broker a deal between an arms-dealing acquaintance of his and a Jersey businessman with admitted mob ties (another undercover FBI agent).

Yeah, didn't see that one coming, did you?

There were talks of $50,000 for the first successful arms deal (that would have brought weapons from the Philippines to a port in New Jersey) and Yee using his position as Secretary of State to help ship weapons to Africa and launder money from the proceeds made by future sales of weapons.

As it happened, Yee's weapons contact fell through but it turned out he knew another arms dealer in the Philippines.

Summing up, Yee could be on the hook for one count of "Conspiracy to Deal Firearms Without a License to Legally Import Firearms" and six counts of "Wire Fraud of Honest Services" (the illicit campaign donations).  The former carries a penalty of up to five years in prison and the latter 20 years.  Both carry a $250,000 fine.  Add all that up and that could possibly amount to 125 years in prison along with a fine of $1.75 million.

By comparison, Yee's failed anti-video game law from 2005 cost California tax payers $1.327 million.

I'll leave you with this cheery quote from Leland Yee, said to the undercover agent in regards to the purported weapons deal:

"People want to get whatever they want to get.  Do I care?  No, I don’t care.  People need certain things."

Source: The Sacramento Bee

-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Contributing Editor Andrew Eisen

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  1. Cyberdodo says:

    But don't you see, he was doing it all in the name of saving The Children from those horrible evil video games!


  2. hellfire7885 says:

    Once again, shows that the loudest of the moral crusaders tend to be worse than the things they say they're crusading against.

  3. black manta says:

    Gangs, drugs, and gun running?  This is getting to be more and more like GTA by the hour!  No doubt the irony was lost on Sen. Yee.

  4. ZP_PT says:

    I'm not surprised that Yee is corrupt, I am however surprised by the magnitude, I mean arms dealing really?

    I was expecting some bribes or maybe some crooked real estate business not something out of GTA.

  5. Neeneko says:

    This is kinda like opening a present.  Sure you were expecting it, and sure you know there is something good inside, but we can still be surprised and amused by the specifics.

  6. PHOENIXZERO says:

    Is anyone really surprised? The only surprise on my end is that it's taken this long, pretty sure many of us knew he was a dirty, dirty hypocrite back when he was brought to our attention with his anti-game crusade.

  7. Neeneko says:

    Christmas came early this year I see ^_^

    This seems a bit like an anti-gay-rights politicians getting caught with a pool boy.  Thus I am terribly amused.

  8. the1jeffy says:

    Hello GP.  Long time no see!  I caught this story across my fb feed and had to stop by and see what everyone here had to say.  I'm pointing people to the GP coverage of Yee here, past and present, for more dirt. 

  9. Sora-Chan says:

    The image that pops into my head over all of this is him jumping a shark tank, that had no sharks in it, but a flying babershop quartet of velociraptors. I don't know exactly why, but I think it has something to do with the arms brokerage being a huge jump.

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