The state Senate passed a resolution this morning to suspend state Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco/San Mateo, after a federal criminal complaint was unsealed Wednesday revealing that he allegedly was accepting bribes for campaign donations and scheming to bring illegal guns into the country.
Two Southern California state senators, Rod Wright, D-Baldwin Hills, and Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, were also suspended by the 28-1 vote for alleged crimes involving perjury and corruption, respectively.
Wright and Calderon have been on paid leaves of absence since earlier this year.
This morning’s vote came after Yee’s arrest Wednesday on fraud and weapons charges.
While suspended, Yee will still be paid his annual salary. He is out of federal custody on $500,000 bail.
On the senate floor this morning, Steinberg said he wished the disgraced senators would resign and spare the legislature “the stigma associated with their alleged actions.”
“Leave please,” he said. “We’ve made that request and apparently they will not.”
Yee withdrew his candidacy for California Secretary of State Thursday.
In a statement released after the suspension vote, his attorney Paul DeMeester said, “Suspension is the right step for now, and is appropriate in a system that presumes the innocence of the accused.”
Steinberg said under the resolution Yee and the others “cannot serve another day in this senate going forward unless they are exonerated.”
Steinberg said he was changing his position on placing Calderon and Wright on leaves of absence.
“After Wednesday’s events I recognize that is no longer sufficient,” he said.
Steinberg said the actions of the three senators bring forth questions on “senate culture” and he called for an ethics review to be held in each office on April 7.
“We must do more here in the Senate,” and he called for each office to “take stock.”
The senate leader said despite required ethics training, “there are some things you just can’t teach…I know of no ethics class that teaches about the dangers of gun running and other such sordid activities.”
As part of the resolution, Yee is suspended from his office until his criminal case has been resolved.
Yee is charged with one count of weapons trafficking scheming to defraud citizens of his honest services by allegedly soliciting and accepting campaign contributions in a federal criminal complaint unsealed Wednesday.
He is one of 26 defendants named in the complaint, which also includes notorious San Francisco gang leader Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow and former San Francisco school board president Keith Jackson, who is implicated in a planned murder-for-hire scheme.
Sasha Lekach, Bay City News