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