The California lawmaker indicted for arms smuggling and corruption endorsed President Barack Obama with a speech at Obama’s presidential campaign headquarters in San Francisco, and said that Obama delivered a message of hope for those “cynical about politics.”
State Sen. Leland Yee was arrested Wednesday for corruption and for conspiring to funnel weapons, including shoulder-fired missiles, from a Muslim separatist group in the Philippines to undercover FBI agents in exchange for campaign donations. The undercover agent who discussed the arms deal with Yee presented himself as a member of a fraternal organization headed by Chinatown gangster Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, who was also indicted as part of the investigation that snared Yee. Chow was recognized by Sen. Dianne Feinstein in a 2012 statement as a former offender who had become an asset to his community.
“This [Obama] candidacy feels comfortable to me,” Yee said in a Jan. 31, 2008 speech at Obama for America headquarters in South City, San Francisco. “Barack Obama understands that we can no longer go into any country and say, ‘We will impose what we think is right for you.'”
“When someone is trying to make ends meet or is living from paycheck to paycheck, how on God’s Earth can you ask an individual to purchase health care? Barack Obama talks about finding a way so all of us can live here in America. He understands they do all they can to keep the family together,” Yee said in the speech, which a Yee spokesman said would elevate Obama’s appeal with Asian-Americans in California. Yee initially backed John Edwards in the race, before switching to Obama.
“Barack Obama has delivered us a message of hope and has been able to motivate young people, independents, and those who have felt disengaged and cynical about politics their whole lives,” Yee stated in a Feb. 4, 2008 editorial endorsing Obama published by California Progress Report.
“Sen. Obama has found a way to move us beyond the pettiness that has plagued Washington. … This presidential election is not just about putting a new occupant in the White House; it is about changing the entire political system to best serve the hopes and aspirations of all Americans,” Yee added in his editorial.
Gun-control advocate Yee was recently a featured speaker at a Dec. 14, 2013 “Beyond Newton” rally in San Francisco organized by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, with partnerships from Obama’s advocacy group Organizing for Action, MoveOn.org, and others.