SAN FRANCISCO (CBS/AP) — Court documents allege a California state senator who authored gun control legislation asked for campaign donations in exchange for introducing an undercover FBI agent to an arms trafficker.
The allegations against State Sen. Leland Yee were outlined in an FBI affidavit (PDF) in support of a criminal complaint unsealed Wednesday. The affidavit accuses Yee of conspiracy to deal firearms without a license and to illegally import firearms, though it’s not clear the introduction to the trafficker ever took place.
Yee is also accused of accepting tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions and cash payments to provide introductions, help a client get a contract and influence legislation.
The affidavit names him and 25 other people. Yee was arrested on Wednesday during a series of raids in Northern California.
He was released from custody later on Wednesday, leaving the federal courthouse in San Francisco shortly before 7 p.m.
Yee’s lawyer, Paul DeMeester, declined to discuss the charges against the senator in detail, saying the 137-page criminal complaint will take time to read and fully grasp the criminal case. But DeMeester says the senator plans to plead not guilty to six charge of public corruption and one count of conspiring to sell guns without a license.
DeMeester said the day’s goal was to get his client freed on bond. Beyond that, he declined further comment.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg of Sacramento, hours after Yee’s arrest, meanwhile called on the senator to resign.
“The indictment itself is shocking and surreal. I am angry. I am angry on behalf of the people and I am angry on behalf of the 37 other members whose hard work every day on behalf of the people is being tarnished,” Steinberg said.
If Yee does not step down, Steinberg said he will be suspended immediately.
KCAL9’s Dave Bryan reports critics are now wondering if things are spinning out of control in Sacramento.
Just last month State Senator Ron Calderon was indicted on corruption charges. Senator Roderick Wright is also awaiting sentencing on his conviction for perjury and voter fraud.
“Well, ya know, when it happens with one senator, from one party, you kind of go, ‘OK, you know, legislators are hired from the human race, we all make mistakes.’ Now it’s a third one,” FlashReport.org Founder/Publisher Jon Fleischman said.
“Frankly, over 10 percent of the democrats in the Senate are either indicted or convicted,” he said.
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