Did I really comment in a recent column that state Sen. Leland Yee was an admirable legislator because he didn’t want the ban on affirmative action at our state universities to be revisited?
So imagine my surprise, as they say, when I saw the headline in Thursday’s edition of the Daily Republic that said, “State senator accused of gun charges.” The criminal complaint issued by the FBI “accuses Yee of conspiracy to deal firearms without a license and to illegally import firearms . . . and accepting tens of thousands of dollars in campaign cash . . . .”
The FBI complaint is not just about one incident but a pattern of alleged criminal behavior involving Senator Yee and 25 others. One of the others accused was Raymond Chow, a “onetime gang leader with ties to San Francisco’s Chinatown known as ‘Shrimp Boy’ . . . .”
The article in the Daily Republic was close to unbelievable. The FBI affidavit claimed that Senator Yee claimed to have contacts with Muslim separatist groups in the Philippines who could supply the undercover agent with a variety of weapons, including shoulder-fired missiles.
Allegations against Yee’s campaign aide were, if anything, even more startling.
Keith Jackson, who was picked up in the same sweep as the senator, along with 25 others, was – if you missed it – a former president of the San Francisco Board of Education. Yee was released on $500,000 bail, while Jackson was kept in custody. Then there was Chow, who was arrested at the same time as Yee.
The detailed account in Thursday’s paper raised a question in my naïve mind. According to the allegations, Yee was in it up to his ears, yet his activities raised no suspicions until the FBI began its investigation.
You’ve got to hand it to Yee, though. He had the nerve, the effrontery, the gall, the chutzpah, to run for secretary of state for the state of California. Wasn’t there a movie many years ago called “I Led Two Lives”? How could a well-known political figure allegedly engage in gun running and influence peddling without raising suspicions? Didn’t his colleagues in Sacramento notice anything unusual about Yee, perhaps living beyond his means with the money he raised from his two alleged “outside” businesses?
Then there’s this Keith Jackson fellow. Accused of murder-for-hire as well as trafficking in both guns and drugs?
We have to give credit to the FBI for building a case and arresting most of the 25 accused, but at the same time wonder how Yee and his pals got away with these alleged criminal activities for years. Yee was not a recluse, a loner who lived quietly by himself. He was so well-known that apparently he thought the office of secretary of state was within his reach.
I bet a lot of us thought that the Chinatown gangs were a thing of the distant past. Who would have imagined that their influence reached all the way to Sacramento?
Bud Stevenson, a retired stockbroker, lives in Fairfield. Reach him at [email protected]