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

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.


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 reporter for Bloomberg Politics



Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Even When They Go to College, the Poor Sometimes Stay Poor

Here’s Just How Far a Southern Woman May Have to Drive to Get an Abortion

The Most Ingenious Teaching Device Ever Invented

Marvel’s Civil War Is a Far-Right Paranoid Fantasy

It’s also a mess. Can the movies do better?


Sprawl, Decadence, and Environmental Ruin in Nevada

Space: The Next Generation

An All-Female Mission to Mars

As a NASA guinea pig, I verified that women would be cheaper to launch than men.

Watching Netflix in Bed. Hanging Bananas. Is There Anything These Hooks Can’t Solve?

The Procedural Rule That Could Prevent Gay Marriage From Reaching SCOTUS Again

  News & Politics
Oct. 20 2014 7:13 PM Deadly Advice When it comes to Ebola, ignore American public opinion: It’s ignorant and misinformed about the disease.
Oct. 20 2014 6:48 PM Apple: Still Enormously Profitable
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 6:32 PM Taylor Swift’s Pro-Gay “Welcome to New York” Takes Her Further Than Ever From Nashville 
Future Tense
Oct. 20 2014 4:59 PM Canadian Town Cancels Outdoor Halloween Because Polar Bears
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.