The California Gun-Running, Bribe-Taking Democrat Formerly Known as a Gun Control Activist

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 27 2014 5:45 PM

The California Gun-Running, Bribe-Taking Democrat Formerly Known as a Gun Control Activist

131732221-california-state-senator-and-candidate-for-san
California state Sen. and candidate for San Francisco mayor Leland Yee and his wife, Maxine Yee, wait in line to cast their ballots at a polling station inside San Francisco City Hall on Nov. 7, 2011.

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

If this blog is a little too light today, it's because the universe decided to unlease thousands of pages of fascinating indictments or studies on the political press corps. I took far too long to read the criminal complaint that brought down California state Sen. Leland Yee—it's among the most baffling, thrilling tales of political corruption in recent memory. The FBI investigators tracking Yee (the ones referred to as "UCE," etc.) were brought in on a gun-smuggling operation for the apparent benefit of all parties, especially Yee, as he stretched his finances for a secretary of state campaign. It was Yee who brought up the arms dealer. 

The meetings continued, and Yee was conversant about the guns he could offer.

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He also knew exactly how to grease the wheels with his contact.

He was good on his word about setting up the meeting.

And all of this, we learn, was for a four-figure campaign donation.

This is a fantastic story, and gun rights groups are adapting the film rights. Hunter Schwarz was, I think, the first to point out Yee's long and proud record of advocacy for gun control. The NRA happily gave a quote to the LA Times, calling "this poster boy for gun control" a "scumbag." On conservative news sites, the Yee story is being almost exclusively covered as a farce of gun-grabber hypocrisy.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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