California Democrats did not need Republicans to help dismantle their supermajority in the Senate. They managed to do it themselves this year with three separate public corruption indictments of state senators.
On Wednesday, State Sen. Leland Yee was indicted for public corruption as a result of a major FBI operation. Yee’s indictment was one in a string of arrests that included the infamous Chinatown gangster Raymond “shrimp boy” Chow who is connected to multiple charges including racketeering and drug crimes. Chow has a criminal rap sheet that spans from 1978 to the present and includes various federal racketeering indictments, some containing allegations of attempted murder, murder-for-hire, gun trafficking.
It is not clear how Democrat Sen. Yee is associated with Chow, however police and FBI agents are currently serving warrants throughout the city on witnesses and suspects wanted in connection to the corruption indictments. Chow is a candidate for Secretary of State this year.
Chow’s indictment left Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Van Nuys; Democrat Derek Cressman; Republican Pete Peterson and nonpartisan Dan Schnur vying for that office. State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento was not ready to comment on the indictments Wednesday morning, according to Senate spokesman Mark Hedlund.
Democrats had already lost their supermajority earlier this year after State Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, surrendered to authorities after being indicted on bribery charges in February followed by Assemblyman Roderick Wright, D-Inglewood being convicted of voter fraud and perjury as a result of his 2010 indictment.
The corruption charges against high-level Democrats have raised doubts about the integrity of the California Senate long dominated by Democrats and torpedoed their supermajority status which had enabled them to ram through bills opposed by Republicans.
Before being elected to the Senate, Yee led the State Assembly where he was the first Asian-American Speaker pro Tempore and the chamber's second-most-powerful Democrat at the time.
Fellow Secretary of State candidate Cressman put it this way Tuesday, "We are clearly beyond the point of looking at one bad apple and instead looking at a corrupt institution in the California senate." However, he tempered his remarks by lamenting that "The constant begging for campaign cash clearly has a corrosive effect on a person's soul and the only solution is to get big money out of our politics once and for all."
An Army veteran, Yee earned a bachelor's degree from the Berkeley, a master's degree from San Francisco State University and a doctorate in child psychology at the University of Hawaii. The state senator is married and has four children.The public corruption charges will likely end his campaign to become the next secretary of state for California.