Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Fall of Leland Yee

Our District 8 State Senator, Leland Yee (D), was arrested "on charges that he conspired to traffic in firearms and traded favors in Sacramento for bribes." A powerful senior politician, Leland Yee had a good shot at becoming California's next Secretary of State. His arrest "reverberated through circles of power in San Francisco and Sacramento, shaking up party politics and the secretary of state race."

65-year-old Senator Yee was born in China and became a naturalized U.S. citizen. He schooled at Berkeley, SF State, and the University of Hawaii, where he received a PhD in Child Psychology. After moving to San Francisco, he was elected to the Board of Supervisors in 1996 and the State Assembly in 2002. He became the first Chinese-American elected to the State Senate, where he won by landslide margins in San Francisco and San Mateo counties.

Leland Yee's arrest on gun-trafficking charges is especially shocking because he has been a staunch proponent of firearm restrictions. Weary of scandals, fellow California Democrats "want Leland Yee gone":
Yee's arrest triggered condemnation from California's Democratic senators, who are already wary of their reputation due to recent scandals including the arrest of Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, on bribery charges.

"I want Leland Yee gone," said Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg during a news conference at his Sacramento office, while flanked by fellow senators including Loni Hancock of Berkeley and Mark Leno of San Francisco.

Leno said, "Every indictment, every arrest, every arraignment and even every suspicion or allegation reflects very poorly on each of us and all of us."
California is a one-party state, with Democrats holding all state-wide elective offices plus a filibuster-proof super-majority in the legislature. Despite Mark Leno's warning about the arrest of Democratic politicians reflecting poorly on their brand, Democrats are very likely to retain their dominance at least through the November elections and probably through 2016. Californians voted for, got, and, sadly, will continue to get the government that they deserve.

[Update - Fri, 3/28: The State Senate suspends three Democratic senators, including Leland Yee, after criminal indictments. "Friday’s suspension vote prevents the lawmakers from exercising any power of their office but allows them to keep receiving their paychecks."]

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