Former Friends, Foes Comment on California Senator Leland Yee’s Indictments

A number of things have happened since State Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) was indicted on a wide range of charges by the U.S. Department of Justice. Sen. Leland Yee’s defense attorney, Paul DeMeester, announced that he was no longer running for California Attorney General, for starters. DeMeester declined to discuss whether Yee intends to comply with the resignation demand from state Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg.

California's top two Democratic Senators also issued statements saying that Yee should step down from his state office, saying that he has lost the trust and confidence of the people:

"I agree with State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg that Leland Yee should immediately step down," said U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA). "If these allegations are true, they are beyond outrageous. I support the Justice Department’s crackdown on corruption, which sends an unequivocal message that there is absolutely no place in public life for criminals who violate the public trust and demean public service."

"The allegations against Senator Yee are shocking," said U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA). "It has become clear he has lost the confidence of his colleagues and for the good of his constituents should step down."

Gun control advocates in California said that they would need to find someone new to represent their interests:

"Next to U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, he was probably the second most outspoken gun control advocate. This really leaves us scrambling for someone to pick up that mantle," said Paul Song, executive chairman of "If it wasn’t so sad it would be comical. But what we’re really worried about is that this will further destroy the momentum for gun control here in California."

Finally, gun rights groups in the state are taking the opportunity to pounce on Yee:

"If these allegations are true, Sen. Yee is easily the biggest hypocrite on gun control to walk the halls of the capitol in Sacramento, if not the entire United States," said The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms chairman Alan Gottlieb. "It is hard to fathom this kind of activity on a scale as massive as these court documents allege. If Sen. Yee and his fellow defendants are convicted, they’re going to wind up in one of the biggest gun-free zones in the country, a federal prison."

Andrew Arulanandam, a spokesman for the NRA, said Yee was a hypocrite: "This poster boy for gun control is a scumbag," he said.

Yee has been charged with 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. Yee could face a cumulative sentence of 125 years in prison along with a fine of $1.75 million.

Source: LA Times, KQED

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