Calif. State Senator Charged With Trafficking Arms in Exchange for Campaign Contributions

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
March 26 2014 9:43 PM

Calif. State Senator Charged With Trafficking Arms in Exchange for Campaign Contributions

131732220-california-state-senator-and-candidate-for-san
California State senator and candidate for San Francisco mayor Leland Yee waits in line to cast his ballot.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

On Wednesday in America a politician was discovered to be corrupt and was arrested for his misdeeds. It’s not exactly the stuff of the silver screen—unless that politician happens to be Leland Yee. The tale of the California state senator’s corrupt dealings aren’t the ho-hum stuff of local news, it could star Brad Pitt. Here’s what Yee was up to.

On Wednesday, the Democrat was arrested on corruption charges, but not just any type of corruption—conspiracy to deal firearms without a license and to illegally import firearms. That’s pretty heady stuff, particularly, the San Jose Mercury News points out, for a politician that’s “among the state Senate's most outspoken advocates both of gun control and of good-government initiatives.” You might ask: Was there some sort of misunderstanding? Was Yee sneakily looking for a gun or two for his private collection? Nope. He solicited campaign donations in exchange for arranging a meeting between an undercover FBI agent and an arms trafficker.

Advertisement

And that’s just the beginning. Here’s more from the Associated Press:

Yee discussed helping the agent get weapons worth $500,000 to $2.5 million, including shoulder fired automatic weapons and missiles, and took him through the entire process of acquiring them from a Muslim separatist group in the Philippines to bringing them to the United States, according to the affidavit by FBI Special Agent Emmanuel V. Pascua. He was unhappy with his life and told the agent he wanted to hide out in the Philippines, according to the affidavit. “There’s a part of me that wants to be like you,” he told the undercover agent, according to the affidavit. “You know how I’m going to be like you? Just be a free agent there...” According to court documents, Yee performed “official acts” in exchange for donations from undercover FBI agents, as he sought to dig himself out of a $70,000 debt incurred during a failed San Francisco mayoral bid.

Along with the arms charges, Yee also faces six other charges of defrauding state's citizens. Each corruption count, according to the San Jose Mercury News, “is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000, while the gun-trafficking count is punishable by up to five years and $250,000.”

*This post has been updated to include the fact that Yee is a Democrat.

Elliot Hannon is a writer in Washington, D.C. Follow him on Twitter.

TODAY IN SLATE

Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

What Hillary Clinton’s Iowa Remarks Reveal About Her 2016 Fears

After This Merger, One Company Could Control One-Third of the Planet's Beer Sales

John Oliver Pleads for Scotland to Stay With the U.K.

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

Jurisprudence

Don’t Expect Adrian Peterson to Go to Prison

In much of America, beating your kids is perfectly legal. 

The Juice

Ford’s Big Gamble

It’s completely transforming America’s best-selling vehicle.

I Tried to Write an Honest Profile of One of Bollywood’s Biggest Stars. It Didn’t Go Well.

Here’s Why College Women Don’t Take Rape Allegations to the Police

The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 1:51 PM Here’s Why College Women Don’t Take Rape Allegations to the Police
  News & Politics
Frame Game
Sept. 15 2014 5:13 PM Hard Knocks I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 15 2014 7:27 PM Could IUDs Be the Next Great Weapon in the Battle Against Poverty?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 15 2014 4:38 PM What Is Straight Ice Cream?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 15 2014 5:26 PM Robin Thicke’s Bizarre “Blurred Lines” Deposition Is Both Unflattering and Convenient
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 15 2014 4:49 PM Cheetah Robot Is Now Wireless and Gallivanting on MIT’s Campus
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 15 2014 11:00 AM The Comet and the Cosmic Beehive
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 8:41 PM You’re Cut, Adrian Peterson Why fantasy football owners should release the Minnesota Vikings star.