“Legislators in the Golden State make Breaking Bad seem mild by comparison,” Steve Greenhut writes at Reason, who notes that the fictional teacher turned meth dealer Walter White was a small-timer when compared to the allegations against stranger-than-fiction Democrat Leland Yee:
In the FBI document, Yee is described having conversations with an undercover agent about providing large stockpiles of firepower: “(The agent) asked Senator Yee for his commitment. … Senator Yee asked (the agent) if he wanted ‘automatic weapons’ as opposed to semi-automatic weapons.” Yee allegedly said that he didn’t care about people getting guns because “People want to get whatever they want to get.”
In addition to being charged with a conspiracy to traffic firearms, Yee was charged with trading official favors—e.g., promising a Senate proclamation praising a Chinatown fraternal organization whose leader has a long rap sheet, and offering meetings with legislators for a medical-marijuana business—for campaign cash. Yee was running to be California secretary of state, but mercifully withdrew from the race on Thursday.
“We express our anger and our revulsion at today’s events,” said Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, at a press conference on Wednesday. He reminded the media that these are only allegations, but called on Yee to “resign, leave, don’t burden your colleagues in this great institution with your troubles.”
But ironies and hypocrisies abound—not just regarding Yee, but with the leadership’s controversial handling of the ethical and legal problems of two other senators. Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, has been indicted on bribery charges. Sen. Rod Wright, D-Inglewood, has been found guilty of eight felonies related to his not living in the district he represents. Both men have been on voluntary, paid leave—and Steinberg has refused a floor vote on expulsion.
After a heated exchange Friday, the Senate voted to suspend with pay those three members and Steinberg announced plans to conduct an office-by-office ethics review. Sen. Joel Anderson, the El Cajon Republican who had unsuccessfully pushed for a Wright expulsion vote, said the Senate leader’s talk “falls woefully short of being meaningful.” He compared suspension to paid vacation, and said that “If you reward bad behavior, you can get more of it.”
Yet Anderson’s remarks drew an irate response from expected incoming Senate leader Kevin de Leon of Los Angeles, who complained about “sanctimonious, Puritanical behavior” and “political opportunism,” which he said was the equivalent of burning down the greatest legislative house in the nation.
De Leon’s rhetoric was oddly grandiose, considering that FBI agents had descended on the Capitol earlier in the week. Are these leaders as out of touch as they seem to be?
Gov. Jerry Brown, at least, weighed in with a tough stance late Friday.
“Given the extraordinary circumstances of these cases—and today’s unprecedented suspensions—the best way to restore public confidence is for these Senators to resign,” the Democratic governor said in a statement issued by his office.
When Jerry Brown is the voice of reason, you start to understand how royally screwed is the state of California.
CNN anchors are currently losing their minds trapped in a Flight #370-induced Mobius Loop; this seems like the perfect story to break the cycle, and possibly begin to at least make the nightly ratings losses against Fox News at least somewhat competitive. To ask yourself why CNN isn’t obsessing on the sensational charges against Leland Yee as a change of pace is to answer the question.