The shocking arrest of California State Senator Leland Yee has given voters a myriad of reasons to worry. The FBI has compiled a 137 paged affidavit against the politician and 20 other defendants. Reportedly the troubled senators campaign debt is at the root of his criminal activities and allegedly spurred his involvement with shady characters such as the notorious Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow who was believed to have reformed since his days as a Chinese gang leader. Mr, Chow was a noted community activist who was believed to have changed his racketeering ways but was also arrested and taken into custody last week along with Senator Yee and political consultant Keith Jackson.
Senator Yee had been soliciting for campaign money for his run at Secretary of State. Both Leland Yee and Keith Jackson were recorded making illegal deals with undercover FBI agents over the course of a lengthy sting operation. Supposedly, Sen. Yee was well aware of the corruption aspect of what he was doing as he was quoted as having said that he did not wish to be indicted as he was only trying to run for office. The now suspended senator has a very hard fight ahead of him as he faces massive public corruption charges that include sales of illegal weapons to overseas buyers as well as bribery. Since his arrest, Senator Yee has ended his bid for Secretary of State. Many in the democratic party are now calling for a full resignation from Yee as well.
It has been an open secret for years that a culture of corruption has apparently been running rampant in the state capitol as well as in the federal government. For years political players have found ways to get around laws designed to limit pay for play type politics. When a lobbyist wants to get legislature passed or a particular law struck down, it is very easy for them to set up dummy businesses or shadow campaigns in order to get what they want from legislators. In return these slimy politicians are able to fund their campaigns, pay off debts and live lavish lifestyles all on the backs of taxpayers. With the arrest of California Senator Leland Yee and his network of cronies, voters have become even more weary of the scandals and corruption and now have new and valid reasons to worry about where tax dollars are going and who is looking out for their best interest. It certainly seems that many politicians are only looking out for themselves and their campaign contributors that give “generously”.
Ever more frequently stories of political corruption and wrongdoing are coming out and exposing the dirty underbelly of politics. There seems to be a greater number of crooked politicians than there are those who genuinely stand for their constituents. It certainly appears that corruption and the greasing of palms have become the norm in political wheeling and dealing. Ultimately, voters lose out under this type of political environment. What are voters to do when politicians hide behind lies and make promises to tax paying citizens that they never plan to keep? Many voters are deciding not to show up at polling locations because they have no faith in their representatives. This practice does not bode well for many communities as it makes it even easier for corrupt politicians to be elected via low voter turnout. One way for voters to help stem the tide of corruption would be to pay closer attention to the motives of these politicians that are vying for their votes.
“If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” has seemed to become the overriding attitude of modern day politics. Perhaps there is some truth in the belief that human nature is not really conducive to democracy, which would partly explain the lack of honesty in politics. So the answer appears to be a resounding yes, the arrest and subsequent case against California Senator Leland Yee most certainly does give voters reason to worry and fret about the future of this state. As this case unfolds, it will be interesting to see the effects it has across the political landscape both in California and in other states as well.
Op-ed by Mai Nowlin