I am a fan of American Hustle, the Hollywood take on Abscam, a FBI sting operation that was aided by a convicted con-man in which politicians were videotaped as they were offered bribes by a fictional Middle Eastern sheik in return for various political favors.

Now, the Golden State has produced a real-life version of this saga, complete with arms trafficking and Chinatown gangs. The “star” of this show was a contender for the California Secretary of State slot in November’s election, State Senator Leland Yee:

Gun-control groups said Thursday they were trying to find a new legislative leader to champion firearms restrictions after one of their most outspoken supporters was charged in a federal gun-trafficking case. People on both sides of the gun control issue said the charges against state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, may slow consideration of gun legislation this year.

“Ironically, while he’s being charged with gun trafficking, next to (U.S. Sen.) Dianne Feinstein he was probably the second most outspoken gun control advocate. This really leaves us scrambling for someone to pick up that mantle,” said Paul Song, executive chairman of CourageCampaign.org. “If it wasn’t so sad it would be comical. But what we’re really worried about is that this will further destroy the momentum for gun control here in California.”

One can sure hope.

Now, are you confused by the fact that one of the single biggest advocates of gun control in the state, a San Francisco Democrat to boot, is alleged to have engaged in a gun running conspiracy? If so, the Los Angeles times offers this handy guide to Leland Yee corruption scandal:

The affidavit says that in August 2013, a prominent California political consultant who had been working to raise money for Yee’s campaigns told a prospective donor, an undercover federal agent, that Yee “had a contact who deals in arms trafficking.”

In exchange for campaign contributions, according to the affidavit, Yee would “facilitate a meeting with the arms dealer” so that the donor could buy a large number of weapons. The firearms would be imported through a port in Newark, N.J. At one meeting, the affidavit said, Yee and the prospective donor discussed “details of the specific types of weapons.”

One of the biggest issues we citizen activists have with elite politicians is that they often act as if the rules do not apply to them. Yee is the new poster child for this attitude.

To me, one of the most fascinating characters in this saga is Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, who was charged along with Yee. The notorious Chinatown gang leader has received awards from politicians, including U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, and Chow’s Facebook album features a photo of himself with former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, now California’s lieutenant governor.

Chow holds a “supreme authority” position in the Triad, an international Chinese organized crime group; heads the Hop Sing Boys, a San Francisco street gang; and serves as the “dragon head,” or leader, of the Ghee Kung Tong, a Chinese brotherhood that allegedly provided cover for criminal operations after Chow took over in 2006, according to the affidavit.

Chow had regularly referred to his “legitimate” business plans, including producing a movie about his life and having $50,000 on hand to publish an autobiography, but money laundering, illegally imported diesel and stolen liquor were also discussed, according to the documents.

Dawn Wildman, President of the SoCal Tax Revolt Coalition, notes that Yee is the third politician who is part of a disturbing trend in California — citizens paying for representation that they aren’t actually receiving: With the arrest of yet another California elected Senator Leland Yee, the California political elite seem to be the new stars of Orange is the New Black. First we have Senator Rod Wright convicted of 8 count of voter fraud and perjury who is still drawing his salary off the CA taxpayer and then Senator Ron Calderon who has been indicted federally on charges ranging from mail fraud, wire fraud, honest services fraud, bribery, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and money laundering to aiding in the filing of false tax returns. He too is on paid leave of absence.

Sarah B., another member of SCTRC more humorously noted that since we seem to be rebooting the Cold War, it looks like we are returning to 1970’s-style political crimes as well. However, as noted San Diego blogger KT Kat remarks, when the Yee story is actually produced by Hollywood, he will be transformed into a Republican and the state will be Alabama.

At this point, the California Tea Parties are working toward using these 3 politicians as examples of what happens when progressives go unchallenged at the ballot for prolonged periods of time. Hopefully, this November, we will be able to change the script for Sacramento’s “business as usual” politics.

But, the good news is Yee has suspended his campaign, so that is at least one less crooked politician Californians can vote for.

(Image: Leland Yee’s Facebook Page).


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