The 137-page, FBI-sworn affidavit against California State Sen. Leland Yee, a Democrat who is also running for Secretary of State, and over two dozen other individuals reads like a crime thriller.
Beyond the widely reported stories of alleged wire fraud, money laundering, corruption, and bribery, the affidavit contains tales of alleged murder-for-hire plots involving a political consultant close to Yee, as well as large international weapons trafficking operations.
Indeed, while the media have fixated on the hypocrisy of a gun-control advocate–Yee sponsored legislation against detachable magazines, for example–alleged involvement in gun smuggling, few reports delve into the kind of weapons with which Yee was allegedly involved.
The FBI affidavit describes conversations about shipments of automatic weapons and talk of heavier weapons, including shoulder-fired missiles and artillery.
One arms trafficker Yee allegedly discussed sourced weapons from Russia. Another trafficker, in an alleged meeting with Sen. Yee, political consultant Keith Jackson, and the FBI informant on March 11, 2014, allegedly discussed arms to be obtained from the Philippines. The affidavit claims the arms trafficker claimed personal relationships with Islamic rebels in the Philippines, though the weapons were supposedly to be obtained from sources inside the Philippine military.
Throughout the document, a portrait emerges of a politician who is not only allegedly cavalier about campaign finance limits but who allegedly associates with violent criminals and drug traffickers.
And it is a rather sad picture: at one stage Yee allegedly confides that he does not enjoy his life and wants to live in anonymity in the Philippines.
The Los Angeles Times notes that the persona that emerges in the affidavit is a very different figure than the one Sen. Yee presented to the public: a local community leader and steadfast advocate for gun control whose efforts were nationally recognized.
The sworn testimony by FBI Special Agent Emmanuel Pascua paints Yee as a man who allegedly used corrupt relationships to finance his various campaigns and campaign debts.
Another theme throughout the affidavit is the skillful way in which the FBI manipulated the greed of some of the alleged criminals, who push each other into alleged conspiracies for fear of missing out on their own independent opportunities for self-enrichment.
Though the presumption of innocence must hold for now, the sheer scale and detail of the FBI’s work is impressive.