More bizarre facts about California State Sen. Leland Yee are coming to light, and they range from receiving the severed head of a pig several years ago, to allegedly supporting or creating laws to benefit special interests who supplied him with campaign contributions.
Yee, who was suspended last month from the Senate, was the San Francisco school board president in the 1990’s. One Friday afternoon, the San Francisco Chronicle recalls, school board executive assistant Esther Casco, who was sitting at the reception desk, received a large cardboard box addressed to Yee that was dropped off by an Asian man. Casco phoned Yee, who responded, “Do me a favor and open the box.” When Casco opened it, she found a severed pig’s head with a cleaver lodged in its skull.
Alerted by Casco, the school district’s associate superintendent, Hal Solin, called the police. Interviewed recently by the Chronicle‘s Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross, Solin said, “I just thought it was some stupid prank, but I thought it was worth letting police deal with it because it might mean something to some culture.”
Present-day school board member Jill Wynns, who was on the board at the time, said, “The presumption was that this was some kind of (Chinese) gang-related thing.” She added that school board members were alerted they “should be on heightened awareness.”
Yee’s shady past also includes his alleged propensity for raising campaign money from organizations in exchange for pushing their pet causes. Yee’s record of pursuing options like these, according to the Contra Costa Times, allegedly includes 20 bills from 2011 to 2014 that were designed for special interest groups, as he raised $150,000 for his campaigns from labor unions, trade associations and other groups while he fought for laws to protect them.
David Lee, a political science professor at San Francisco State, stated, “Leland Yee symbolizes the pay-to-play virus that has infected our entire body politic.”
The Times asserts that Yee liked to sponsor “milker bills,” which propose legislation that is designed to elicit funds from special interest groups.
Three bills stand out, the Times alleges: his efforts on behalf of traumatologists receiving licenses, cardrooms have the flexibility to invest in foreign casinos, and insurance companies using aftermarket parts to repair cars. All three bills failed, but they were a cumbersome and costly addition to the state’s political agenda.
In 2013, Yee went to bat for Hollywood Park Casino near Los Angeles and other cardroom owners who for more than a decade have sought to overturn a rule that prevents them from investing in foreign casinos that feature games, such as roulette and blackjack, that are outlawed in cardrooms.
41 traumatologists reportedly gave Yee a total of $5,131 when he ran for mayor in 2011; traumatology groups donated $7,800 to Yee’s state accounts. Concurrently, Yee attempted to get the traumatologists licensed by the state Department of Consumer Affairs. Acupuncturists, who number roughly 10,000 in California, were irate, as Yee had been considered supporter of theirs. They vehemently opposed his efforts, worrying of the threat to public health. Yee received letters of support from Hop Sing Tong and Chee Kung Tong, Chinatown organizations that were run by Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, an alleged gangster now also under federal indictment.
Rona Ma, the leader of the United California Practitioners of Chinese Medicine, which represents nearly 400 acupuncturists, begged Yee to eschew supporting the traumatologists, but he ignored her, the Times reports.
YSome other bills Yee supported can be seen for special interests can be seen here.