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Skelton: Even old hands are stunned by Leland Yee case

If there has ever been a more nauseating corruption scandal in Sacramento, I'm not aware of it. Certainly not in the past 50 years.

The notion of a legislator masquerading as a gun control crusader while offering to help a mobster traffic in automatic rifles and rocket launchers is beyond hypocrisy. It's sick.

The obligatory insert here: Everyone is presumed innocent until proved guilty in court.

But no one I've talked to presumes any innocence in this sordid case.

Especially not anyone who has read the 137-page FBI affidavit that summarizes an elaborate undercover sting leading to the arrest last week of state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, — "aka Uncle Leland" — on charges of conspiring to illegally deal firearms, public corruption and wire fraud.

Yee allegedly was teamed with his political fundraiser, consultant Keith Jackson, who also was charged in murder-for-hire and narcotics schemes. Jackson was aligned with convicted felon Raymond "Shrimp Boy" Chow, a San Francisco tong dragonhead — gang boss — accused of laundering money and trafficking in stolen cigarettes.

Back in the 1950s, there was a big bribery scandal involving the sale of liquor licenses by state Board of Equalization members, who then regulated alcohol. The board was stripped of that power, and the Department of Alcohol Beverage Control was created.

Since then, we haven't come close to anything like international gun running.

A 1980s FBI sting, which sent five legislators of both parties to prison, involved bribes for helping to pass legislation setting up a phony and innocuous shrimp processing plant. It was dubbed Shrimpscam. The FBI tipped off then-Gov. George Deukmejian, and he vetoed the bill.

In the last decade, two state elected officials — Republican Insurance Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush and Democratic Secretary of State Kevin Shelley — resigned amid heated but garden-variety political scandals.


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