SHARE

On the surface, the story of Leland Yee looks like a precipitous fall from grace.

The 67-year-old had risen steadily in the ranks of Bay Area politics since the late 80s, when he was elected to the San Francisco School Board. He then went on to sit on the city’s Board of Supervisors and in the state Assembly. The latter role saw him become the first Asian American speaker pro tem in 2004, making him the second-highest ranking Democrat in the California assembly at the time.

From 2006 onwards, Yee served as a state senator and was plotting a secretary of state campaign when his political visions were curtailed by a federal indictment in March 2014.


A federal judge sentenced former California state senator Leland Yee on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016, to five years in prison. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

The arrest swept Yee and his associate Keith Jackson, 51, up in charges alongside some of the city’s most notorious characters, notable among them Chinatown gangster Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow.

This Wednesday, Yee received a five-year prison sentence for accepting bribes and trafficking in arms.

After initially denying culpability, Yee pleaded guilty to the charges last summer.

“I hope that in your sentencing of me, you will look at my entire life and not just these crimes I have committed,” the senator implored U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer on Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times reported. “In the 67 years of my life, I have devoted much of it to the work of the community, to people here in San Francisco and in the state of California.”

Yee added that he was most ashamed to have hurt his family and supporters: “That will always weight on me, and that will always haunt me for the rest of my life.”

Breyer was unsympathetic to the calls for leniency. While holding public office, Yee had accepted thousands of dollars in campaign contributions in exchange for political favors. And on the side, he and two associates had been involved in a weapons trafficking plot.

These acts were discovered by undercover federal agents investigating organized crime in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Jackson, a former school board president who helped Yee facilitate the bribes, received a nine-year sentence.

“It must be that the public has trust in the integrity of the institution, and Mr. Yee, you abused that trust,” Breyer said, according to the Times. He called Yee’s actions “vile” and the arms dealings particularly “hypocritical” given the politician’s history of gun control advocacy.

Court records show that Yee agreed to perform certain official acts in exchange for mayoral campaign and later secretary of state campaign donations. He obliged one undercover agent who wanted him to make a call to the California Department of Public Health on behalf of an invented contract, as well as another who asked him to take a particular stance on medical marijuana legislation.

Yee also discussed buying weapons overseas and bringing them to the U.S. with two associates and an undercover agent. He accepted $6,800 and a list of arms for purchase in the Philippines.

The maneuvers were not only illegal, but also in stark contrast to what he had long purported to stand for.

Yee told CBS two years before he was arrested: “It is extremely important that individuals in the state of California do not own assault weapons. I mean that is just so crystal clear — there is no debate, no discussion.”

As a legislator, Yee supported strict gun control laws and was named to the Brady Campaign’s Gun Violence Prevention Honor Roll.

The calamitous epilogue to Yee’s career, then, seems to be an abrupt about-face. During his campaigns, Yee had styled himself as an outsider removed from the corruption that plagued San Francisco governments past.

“My parents didn’t encourage me to go into politics at all,” he told Hyphenmagazine in 2011. “There was a stereotype in the Chinese community that sees politics with suspicion. Politicians aren’t honorable, they’re corrupt and unsavory.”

Some members of the public have expressed disappointment over his conviction, but many more think the five-year sentence is fair (if not too light) for someone who has admitted to abusing his position.

There is also a portion of the San Francisco community that couldn’t be less surprised.

While Yee maintained a clean-cut image on the surface, those who followed his career closely — and opposed him politically — have viewed him as a contradictory figure from the start.

He was never someone who could be trusted, they say. The signs of corruption have been there all along, and whispers about his beguiling character were part of why he came fifth in the 2011 mayoral election.

Yee was born in China’s southern Guandong province during Mao Zedong’s Communist takeover. Yee’s father was a storeowner who served in the U.S. Army during world War II, and the family fled to San Francisco Chinatown when Yee was three years old.

For the first four years, the San Francisco Bay Guardian reported, Yee lived with his sister and mother in a one-room apartment while his father sailed for the Merchant Marine. The community was tight-knit and insular.

“The movie theater, the shoe store, the barber shop, food — everything you needed you could get in Chinatown,” Yee told the Guardian. “You never had to leave.”

He eventually did leave, to go to college at UC Berkeley, then get a masters San Francisco State University and a Ph.D in child psychology at the University of Hawaii.

When he returned to Hawaii on a trip in 1992, Yee had his first little-known run-in with the law. According to the Hawaii Reporter, Yee was arrested that year for allegedly stuffing a bottle of Tropical Blend Tan Magnifier Oil into his pocket and walking out of the store.

Yee skipped his court appearance and the case was dismissed.

The incident was minor, to be sure. But it represented one of many minor transgressions which pointed to something potentially more insidious. As SF Weekly wrote in a 2011 cover story, “beneath that do-gooder veneer lurks a long history of apparent ethical lapses. During a generation in public life, Yee has become expert at talking himself out of trouble.”

Former employees at Asian Americans for Community Involvement, for which Yee was an administrator, told SF Weekly that he once used a bottle of Wite-Out to revise the medical records of the nonprofit’s beneficiaries to make their conditions seem more severe.

Another time, while serving on the city school board, Yee reportedly registered his children under a fake address so they could attend a better school.

While he was running for mayor, rallies for his opponent and current mayor Ed Lee doubled as opportunities to speak out against him, the Guardian reported. Despite his Chinatown roots, he lacked the Chinese American support that Lee enjoyed.

Rose Pak, a “Chinatown powerbroker,” told the Guardian that Yee had “no moral character.” She rattled off a list of her (unconfirmed) suspicions — “How did the guy manage to buy a million-dollar house on a $30,000 City Hall salary?” — but the gist was clear: Pak didn’t trust him.

In the words of the Guardian’s Tim Redmond, Yee was a “political puzzle”:

He’s grown, changed and developed his positions over time. Or he’s become an expert at political pandering, telling every group exactly what it wants to hear. He’s the best chance progressives have of keeping the corrupt old political machine out of City Hall — or he’s a chameleon who will be a nightmare for progressive San Francisco.

Four years later, the camouflage has been stripped away.

Source

Comments

comments

155 COMMENTS

  1. PDASmart is a bossman in Apple iPhone repair. If you got your iPhone fog, dont panic. Were authoritatively practised in adulterate working order, and can performed any congenial of damaged repair. Weve been round crave tolerably to fool seen it all. Well beget with you to lessen you know what we can establish, and if it is economical to do so. From backlight renew to LCD renew, our technicians can get it done. We can uncover you a boob tube rivet, an LCD put, or any other parts repair. Our milieu includes a unencumbered diagnostic evaluation to keep from decide what parts are needed and the estimated expense, and if you stock-still organize questions, amuse fondle open-handed to ask.
    louis vuitton bags outlet http://www.handbagsoutlet.online

  2. So as opposed to saving fat, HCA transforms sugar right into
    glycogen and also saved in the liver and also into your muscle
    mass cells to ensure that it can be used as fuel.

  3. This is some good material. It took me a while to find this site but it was worth the time. I noticed this page was buried in bing and not the number one spot. This website has a lot of first-rate material and it doesnt deserve to be burried in the search engines like that. By the way I am going to save this web publication to my list of favorites.
    cole haan outlet stores http://www.colehaanoutlet.online

  4. Hi! There are certainly a lot of details like that to take into consideration. That is a great point to bring up. I offer the thoughts above as general inspiration but clearly there are questions like the one you bring up where the most important thing will be working in honest good faith. I don?t know if best practices have emerged around things like that, but I am sure that your job is clearly identified as a fair game. Both boys and girls feel the impact of just a moment’s pleasure, for the rest of their lives.
    cheap vivienne westwood online https://spectrumtraveltours.com/vivienne-westwood/

  5. Eminent web blog, Fastidious comments that I can take on board. Im moving ahead and might apply to my current job as a pet sitter, which could be very fulfilling, but I need to further grow expand. Best Thoughts for the Future
    cheap Millet https://droos.org/millet/

  6. First of all, allow my family enjoy a persons command during this matter. Even though this is certainly brand new , nevertheless soon after registering your site, this intellect has exploded extensively. Allow all of us to take hold of ones rss to help keep in touch with at all probable messages Sincere understand but will pass it on to help admirers and my personalized are living members
    discount fitflop shoes https://missaototustuus.com/fitflop/

  7. I’m not sure where you are getting your information, but good
    topic. I needs to spend some time learning much more or understanding more.
    Thanks for fantastic info I was looking for this info for my mission.

  8. Hands down, Apples app store wins by a mile. Its a huge selection of all sorts of apps vs a rather sad selection of a handful for Zune. Microsoft has plans, especially in the realm of games, but Im not sure Id want to bet on the future if this aspect is important to you. The iPod is a much better choice in that case.
    official ugg outlet online store http://ugg.easyinboxmailer.com

  9. I do not know if it’s just me or if everyone else experiencing issues with your blog.
    It appears as if some of the text in your posts are running off the screen. Can someone else please provide feedback and let me know if this is happening to them as well?

    This might be a issue with my browser because I’ve had
    this happen previously. Kudos

  10. Excellent beat ! I wish to apprentice even as you amend
    your web site, how could i subscribe for a blog site? The account aided me a applicable deal.
    I had been a little bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided brilliant clear idea

  11. Howdy very cool website!! Man .. Beautiful .. Superb ..
    I’ll bookmark your blog and take the feeds also? I’m
    glad to seek out so many helpful info right here in the post, we’d like develop extra
    strategies in this regard, thank you for sharing. . . . .
    .

  12. I wish to show my thanks to the writer for rescuing me from this challenge. As a result of surfing through the the web and getting notions which are not helpful, I figured my entire life was gone. Living devoid of the approaches to the problems you have sorted out all through your good post is a critical case, and ones that might have in a wrong way affected my entire career if I hadnt come across your site. Your own knowledge and kindness in controlling every item was tremendous. Im not sure what I would have done if I hadnt encountered such a point like this. Im able to at this time look ahead to my future. Thanks very much for this high quality and results-oriented guide. I will not hesitate to suggest your web site to anyone who will need tips about this matter.
    buy oakley sunglasses online http://oakley.easyinboxmailer.com

  13. Been using this stuff for about a week and already noticed much greater lifts. Using with GEN HumanoVar and noticed not only increase in mass (1-2kg in a week) but a decrease in body fat especially the abdominal region. Would recommended although it di id upset the stomach for firt 3-5 days but fine after that.
    buy nfl http://nfl.angigreene.com

  14. It is truly a nice and useful piece of info. I’m satisfied that
    you shared this useful information with us. Please keep us informed like this.
    Thanks for sharing.

  15. What’s up colleagues, how is all, and what you would like to say concerning this paragraph, in my view its in fact
    remarkable in support of me.

  16. I’m impressed, I have to admit. Genuinely rarely should i encounter a weblog that’s both educative and entertaining, and let me tell you, you may have hit the nail about the head. Your idea is outstanding; the problem is an element that insufficient persons are speaking intelligently about. I am delighted we came across this during my look for something with this.

  17. Hi there i am kavin, its my first time to commenting anyplace, when i read this piece of writing
    i thought i could also make comment due to this brilliant piece
    of writing.

  18. Howdy! This blog post could not be written much better!
    Looking through this article reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He always kept preaching about this. I am going to send this
    article to him. Fairly certain he’ll have a very good
    read. Many thanks for sharing!

  19. She said she thinks Erving recognized her during that first meeting. I stood in line for an autographed ball, and I didnt really want to. And I got there. I just stood in line to see what he looked like. And I got up there, he asked me if I wanted a ball, and I said `no, and I walked away.
    berghaus jacket sale uk http://www.berghausstore.cc

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here