The indictment itself was shocking, a state senator accused of conspiracy and arrested. As details of the case around state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, unfolded, it became more and more shocking.
If true, it reveals an extreme lack of judgment and character. Though everyone is innocent until proven guilty, the evidence seems pretty damning. A state senator trading influence and making connections for those involved in arms dealings, drugs and other crimes in exchange for campaign donations is a shocking situation.
Yee is termed out at the end of the year and represents District Eight, which was to be moved at the end of his term elsewhere. Both San Francisco and San Mateo County have representatives in the state Senate in Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, and Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo. Yee’s office is an appendage because of redistricting so his removal from the Senate will be no loss for his constituents. If any of his legislation has merit, it can be picked up by other legislators, and Yee himself told the Daily Journal last month he is spending about half his time campaigning for California secretary of state.
Two other state senators have recently taken leaves of absence, Ron Calderon for a federal corruption indictment and Rod Wright for his conviction of voter fraud and perjury charges. The Senate needs no further distractions. Yee should resign immediately.
He won’t be an effective office holder in his time remaining and will only serve as a distraction. Besides, the weight of the charges against him will likely take up all his time.
Furthermore, the Senate needs a reality check if its members are to be continually investigated and charged with major crimes. Once is an anomaly. Twice is a trend. Three times is a situation, an extremely serious one. And it is a situation that must be addressed if we are to have confidence in the body. The first step would be the immediate removal of Yee from office if he does not remove himself first.