Democratic California state Sen. Leland Yee probably likes to sing Garth Brooks’ classic honky-tonk tune “Friends in Low Places” judging by his choice of buddies. Yee was arrested Wednesday in a massive federal sting trying to sell rocket launchers and missiles from a radical Muslim group in the Philippines to an undercover FBI agent in exchange for campaign funds.
Yee and his campaign staffers accepted nearly $43,000 in bribe money from federal agents to get them in contact with individuals who could procure weapons for them. The weapons, which included shoulder-fired missiles, were estimated to cost from $500,000 to $2.5 million and were supposed to come from a Muslim separatist group in the Philippines that is currently engaged in an ongoing conflict with the established government of their country. Yee is alleged to have set up the deal in exchange for campaign donations.
According to The Daily Mail, Yee had strong ties to local San Francisco gangster Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, who was also arrested in the federal sting. Chow is alleged to have strong ties to a Hong Kong criminal syndicate and is considered a major figure in San Fran’s Chinatown community.
Chow, Yee and 23 other individuals were arrested in raids on Wednesday in Sacramento and San Francisco. Another one of the charged suspects includes a former school board president who was a prominent donor for previous Yee campaigns.
Yee announced Thursday that he is no longer running to become California’s next Secretary of State in the wake of the charges pending against him.
Despite the charges of arms smuggling and campaign corruption, Yee is renown for authoring strong gun control legislation and has been heavily promoting campaign finance reform.
It’s not clear if any of his proposals covered dealing shoulder-fired missiles from Islamic radicals in exchange for campaign donations.
He’s not the only prominent Democrat in hot water over corruption charges. The mayor of Charlotte N.C., Patrick Cannon, resigned Wednesday after he was slammed with federal corruption charges after allegedly accepting a $48,000 bribe from an undercover FBI agent.