Tag Archives: Leland Yee

Leland Yee Arrested in SF Chinese Gang Investigation

Arrest in a shocking investigation opens up SoS race

by Brian Leubitz

First, I’ll simply state that everybody deserves their day in court, and all the charges are merely allegations at this point. But, wow, if only a small fraction of what was revealed is true, you have the makings of an action-packed Hollywood blockbuster.

In the part that pertains to Yee, the long and short of it was that he sold proclamations and small favors in exchange for campaign contributions. (Some of which exceed the contribution limits in the SF mayoral race.) In the affidavit, which you can find over the flip or on scribd here, Yee is said to have told the federal informants that he would not make money for himself for any official acts, and that he did not want to discuss pay-for-play deals. However, he is alleged to have participated in said pay-for-play for campaign contributions at the behest of his fundraising consultant, and alleged gun runner, Keith Jackson.

State Senator Leland Yee, one of the most powerful Democratic politicians in California, was arrested Wednesday morning in a major series of federal raids in the Bay Area and Sacramento targeting corruption and gang activity.

Federal agents arrested Lee(sic) at his home in San Francisco Wednesday morning and he was driven to the federal courthouse while his offices in Sacramento were raided.

The federal complaint filed March 24 and unsealed Wednesday alleges Sen. Yee was engaged in soliciting illegal campaign donations in exchange for political favors and was involved in a conspiracy to traffic firearms. (CBS  SF)

Now, as for the SoS race, you have to figure that with Sen. Yee out of the running, Sen. Alex Padilla is now the big frontrunner. That being said, Democrat Derek Cressman could make a strong challenge if he can continue to raise enough money to increase his name ID. Former Republican Dan Schnur and current Republican Pete Peterson could also push to make that second line of the ballot.

Whatever else you do today, take a few minutes to read the affidavit. It’s like something out of a Mario Puzo novel.

UPDATE: I managed to get a snapshot of Keith Jackson’s page from Singer Associates website, which has now been taken down. You can read the full affidavit over the flip, as well as viewing a CBS-SF news report.

UPDATE 2: Yee has now officially quit the Secretary of State race.

CADem14: No Endorsements in Controller, SoS

Competitive Endorsement Races Amounted to a Whole Lot of Nothing

by Brian Leubitz

If you happened to walk into the Westin Bonaventure over the weekend, you may be confused why the key cards said “Alex Padilla”. But the endorsement races for the Secretary of State and Controller races were the highlight of the weekend.

But when it came down to it, the races weren’t settled at the party convention and the party will remain silent, at least until after the general election.  In the controllers race, Speaker John A. Perez got a plurality, but wasn’t able to garner anywhere near the necessary 60% required to get the endorsement. Betty Yee was able to attract strong support as well, showing that we might have an interesting race here.

In the Secretary of State race, Alex Padilla was nearly able to pull off the 60% endorsement. However, when all of the votes were counted, Padilla fell a few votes short.

In the end, the voters will have to decide for themselves without the help of the party endorsement. One thing is clear, all of the five Democratic candidates in the two races are qualified for the position. Perhaps the endorsement is most useful to let voters know when there is a Democratic candidate who doesn’t honor the values of the Democratic party.

Secretary of State Race Could Get Wild

Wide Field of Candidates Could Lead to Interesting General Election

by Brian Leubitz

The Secretary of State gig will be turning over this year, and there will be change. Lots of it. No matter which of the six announced candidates wins in November, the change from Debra Bowen will be stark. But as one of the two heavily contested races this year, I thought it would be worth a review of the current crop of candidates before the Democratic convention in LA this weekend. The race for the endorsement at this point seems to be Sen. Alex Padilla or a no endorsement position, but, of course, everything could change down at the CADem Convention. So, on to the candidates.

Derek Cressman – Democrat, Former Director of State Operation for Common Cause.

Derek Cressman is not a household name, but under the auspices of Common Cause, he’s done a lot of work on California campaign finance and other voter related reform. I’ve had the chance to work with him on a couple of occasions, and have always been impressed with the depth of his knowledge on the issues the SoS will face. From approving voting machines, to improving access and participation rates, and campaign finance regulations, I can attest that few people in California are as qualified for the job. And as far as I can tell, few people have anything negative to say about him.

All that being said, elections aren’t always about qualifications. Cressman will need to continue to fundraise and then do everything he can to increase his name ID. He may get a bump if he is able to get a good ballot title, but clearly his vote total is limited by this recognition question. If he’s able to squeak into the general election, all bets are off. His profile and qualifications would be very formidable in a two man race.

David Curtis – Green, Artist and designer

Curtis faces the same name recognition issues as Cressman without the long history in public policy around SoS-type issues. That being said, he clearly cares about the issues, with a special interest in using the power of the office in environmental issues. You can view his platform here.

Curtis has previously run for Governor in Nevada in 2010 and been active on other Green Party campaigns.

Alex Padilla – Democrat, State Senator, LA

Alex Padilla brings a lot of innate advantages into the race for SecState. First, he is known as being a very bright guy around the capital, with a firm grasp on the issues. He is the only Latino in a crowded field; that alone may be enough to get him through to the general election. But if he does get there, he’ll need to rely on a record that has only recently begun to be focused on the issues relevant to the office. While Padilla does bring a wealth of experience in local and legislative politics, only a handful of bills are relevant to the office. However, he does have some notable legislative accomplishments, including championing the Earthquake Early Warning System, a driverless car bill, and the bill for an LA NFL stadium.

On the other hand, Padilla is a bit more divisive than Cressman. The recent story about the lavish fundraisers thrown by Kevin Sloat won’t help a campaign for an office that handles elections, especially for a politician that has a bit of a track record with campaign finance violations. All that being said, Padilla is leading the cash on hand race. At the very least, he seems a favorite for one of the two November spots.

• Pete Peterson – Republican, Executive Director of Davenport Institute at the School of Public Policy at Pepperdine University

Peterson’s biggest advantage is something that he has no control over: he is the lone Republican. If another labeled Republican drops into the race, his position becomes a lot more difficult. That being said, Peterson is going to be as conservative as you could possibly elect in California statewide at this point. He has a record of working in bipartisan good government work, and the Davenport Institute, while at a conservative university, isn’t overtly conservative.

However, he is attempting to consolidate the conservative vote. He’s written a few articles for Flash Report that won’t hurt his cause there. The June Republican vote will be relatively strong. If he is able to get 80%+ percent of the GOP vote, he’d be pretty tough to dislodge from one of those two November spots. However, come November, that Republican tag becomes more of a liability than an asset.

Dan Schnur – No party preference. Former FPPC chair, Director of Jess Unruh Center at USC

First, let’s be clear about something: Dan Schnur is a Republican. He worked as Gov. Pete Wilson’s press director for five years, and then worked on John McCain’s 2000 campaign. Now, he’s always professed to be a moderate, and the McCain2000 work could back that up. However, his lack of party preference is more about wanting to draw votes from both Democrats and Republicans. It is an astute political move. Two Republicans in the race could very well mean no Republicans in the general election.

But his bio is stronger than Peterson’s with his brief tenure at the FPPC and very public appearances on the behalf of government reform. And as Joe Matthews points out, he’s the media’s candidate. He’ll need to use all of those media connections in the next three and a half months to increase name ID. Despite the rising number of decline to state voters, by definition those voters don’t stick together. He has no real base of support, but will instead have to hope voters can embrace the “outsider” schtick from a former political consultant.

Leland Yee – Democratic State Senator from San Francisco

Yee, having recently lost in his bid for San Francisco Mayor, has been building a strong resume for the office. Most notably, his online voter registration bill has made voting a lot easier and got a lot of good press for the senator and the state in general. More than a million voters have now registered to vote using the system. And over the past few years, he has built a long list of bills relevant to the job. He is seemingly following the steps that Debra Bowen took in her last few years in the Senate, and he is certainly a strong resume for this particular position.

On the other hand, Yee will also be carrying that state legislator ballot label and will have to hope that there is a strong turnout in the Asian-American community. That being said, he does have a complicated relationship with the community here in San Francisco, finishing a disappointing fifth place after taking some knocks in the press over a mixed record. He has built up a nice war chest, second only to Padilla, and could be a formidable candidate if the chips fall right. High Democratic turnout and/or weak Republican turnout could make this a two-Dem race, and you have to think that Yee would be in the best place to capitalize on that.

CA-SOS: Field Widens to Three Dems As Derek Cressman Joins Race

Secretary of State Turns Into a Competitive Primary

by Brian Leubitz

Of the statewide offices, incumbents will likely run for reelection as Governor, Lt. Gov, Attorney General, Insurance Commissioner, and State Superintendent of Public Instruction. That leaves three statewide positions open: Treasurer, Controller, and Secretary of State. John Chiang looks to be a strong front-runner for treasurer and Betty Yee the front-runner for Controller. Former Bank Bailout (TARP) administrator has also been rumored for one of those two positions, and would likely make for the most credible Republican challenger.

On the other hand, there is no clear front-runner for Secretary of State. Debra Bowen, the long-time progressive leader on the issue of voting machines, is termed out. Sens. Alex Padilla and Leland Yee both quickly announced their candidacies after the presidential elections wrapped up. Both will likely have strong fundraising numbers, and a fair bit of name recognition within their communities. Padilla tends toward the more business friendly moderate wing of the party, and Yee towards the labor-friendly progressive wing. But neither fits the traditional mold particularly well, as they each have strong friends, and some detractors, on the entire spectrum of the Democratic coalition.

On the Republican side, Pepperdine think tanker Pete Peterson is the only announced candidate. And all three are sounding similar themes: increasing voter registration, turnout and transparency.

And now, Derek Cressman, a good government advocate who has spent time with the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) and more recently with Common Cause as the director of state operations, is jumping into the race. I should note here that Derek is a friend of mine, and I’ll be hosting a conversation with him at Netroots Nation tomorrow at 10:30. He’s well suited for the job, as he has experience in managing an office and the knowledge of best practices over politics.

But, with a wild three-way race on the Democratic side, who emerges is anybody’s guess. As long as there is only one viable Republican, the top-two nature of the race won’t be too much of a factor. If an additional Republican jumps in, and we get several more Democrats, we run the (admittedly small) risk of a Rep-on-Rep general election. However, while there is still a fair bit of time left, I haven’t heard much in the way of additional candidates from either party, with just one big name left in rumors.

Without any polling numbers available at this point, it is tough to do very much in the way of prediction. The candidates will likely be focusing on fund-raising for a while before spending money on increasing their name ID, so poll numbers will have a lot of “don’t knows” for a while yet anyway. However it goes, SoS might end up being the race to watch in what is generally a pretty chill election next June.

Photo credit: The Uptake. Derek Cressman at NetrootsNation 2010.

Transparency, or the Lack Thereof

California fails recent transparency study

by Brian Leubitz

California is home to Silicon Valley, so you think we could bring some of that innovation to bear on our state government. But one look at the Cal-Access contribution information website will quickly disabuse any user of that notion. But more than that, the state lacks the kind of transparency tools that other states provide. That yields a failing grade in the US-PIRG’s report on state government transparency.

The report describes California as a “failing state” because, even though it contains some checkbook-level data for contracts and grants, it lacks other important information to allow residents to monitor state spending, including checkbook-level data on non-contract spending and information about which companies benefit from economic development tax credits. California is also one of two states in the country without searchable vendor-specific spending information. California’s transparency site does not link to tax expenditure reports or information on the intended and actual benefits of economic development subsidies. California also fails to provide information on “off-budget” agencies as leading transparency states have begun to do.

One of the more interesting aspects of the Stimulus package of spending was the clean and easy to use website, Recovery.gov, that the federal government set up to track spending. But here in California, where spending will directly impact our daily lives, that data just isn’t easily tracked anywhere. If Utah can do it, and their transparent.utah.gov website  is pretty slick, why can’t California do it?

And while there are a few random attempts to improve transparency, it certainly has been Sen. Leland Yee’s focus for a while, there hasn’t been any systemic path towards greater transparency in state government. (Sen. Yee is also carrying SB751, a bill that calls for greater transparency, but is, in all likelihood a target for gut and amend in the future.)

On the other hand, some municipalities are making an effort on this front. San Francisco has set up a website, with APIs, for a slew of data. And other cities are working towards better transparency, but the process is slow and totally inconsistent. If we are to improve in this area, it will have to come from the top, with at least a modicum of funding. But despite the cost, transparency has a way of paying for itself in reduced waste and a better and more informed democracy.

Yee Looks to Extend HOV Stickers for Clean(er) Vehicles

Legislation would extend access to plug-in hybrids three years

by Brian Leubitz

Do you have a plug-in hybrid yet? Probably not, as they are still pretty rare. Complete electric vehicles (Nissan Leaf, Tesla, etc) are even more rare.

However, the state’s HOV lane access program for the partial electric vehicles is scheduled to expire in 2015. At this point, there are apparently stickers left to be had, something that was not the case for plain ol’ hybrids at the same point in the HOV lane program. It seems the program might have gotten a little ahead of itself in just exactly how many folks would be getting the vehicles at what time.

So, Sen. Leland Yee (D-SF) is looking to push out the time horizon three years in SB 286. The bill would extend both the “green sticker” for partial EVs and “white sticker” for full EVs.

“Many of the latest generation of clean vehicles – the plug-in hybrids – were not widely available until recently and thus there are still stickers available,” said Yee. “By extending the life of the 40,000 available stickers, SB 286 will provide a much greater incentive for individuals to purchase these clean cars.”

“It is imperative that we find ways to limit our carbon footprint,” said Yee.  “Over the next few years we should continue to reevaluate the program and find ways to continue to incentivize the manufacturing, sale, and purchase of greener automobiles.”

Well, now, if you have one, rejoice, you are on the road to 3 more years in the HOV lane. And if you don’t well, they say driving less and keeping your car’s emissions clean is the best way to reduce your carbon footprint…

Sen. Leland Yee to run for Secretary of State

Leland Yee at a 20/20 CoffeeSF Mayoral Candidate has worked on election issues

by Brian Leubitz

While this will be a surprise to exactly nobody, Sen. Leland Yee is making it official, he’ll be a candidate for the 2014 election for SoS.

State Sen. Leland Yee, a San Francisco Democrat who has made voter access and open government among his main priorities as a lawmaker, will run for secretary of state when he is termed out of the Legislature in two years.  …

“Given the fact that I am termed out in two years, I looked long and hard at the options available,” Yee said. “Given the work I have done on voting, on transparency and on open government accountability, I thought the secretary of state position would be a nice fit for me.”(SF Chronicle)

Now putting aside the issue of term limits and legislators constantly looking to find a new seat, Yee will make for a formidable candidate in this race. He has worked on voting issues, and his bill for online registration saw a boom of around a million voters registering via the internet.

With top-two elections, being the first mover is a fairly big advantage. The party will want to avoid a wild primary with lots of solid Democratic candidates so that we don’t inadvertently hand an office to the Republicans. Yee certainly has his share of detractors, but with his background on the issues and a pretty strong base in San Francisco, he will be a strong candidate.

UPDATE: Here’s his tweet on the subject.

This is your time…

We have asked a lot of our online community over the last 10 months. You have been there with us, and for us, every step of the way.

You helped us get the campaign started – donating 20 hours of volunteer time or $20 to the campaign through our 20/20 program.

You helped us put together coffees in every corner of the city so we could meet your friends and neighbors.

You packed the house at our campaign kick-off event in May.

You gathered so many signatures that we were the only campaign to file more than 10,000 signatures to get on the ballot.

You helped us earn the support of the Sierra Club, teachers, the CA Nurses, the SF Labor Council and over 46 other community organizations representing hundreds of thousands of our friends and neighbors.

Over 2,000 of you have donated to our cause.

We are right on the verge of winning this race and creating an independent City Hall for the next four years. We need your help now more than ever.

We have 3 days to go until the campaign fundraising deadline at midnight on Saturday. Our goal is 100 online donations by midnight on Saturday. Will you help us win this race by making a contribution before the deadline?

In the past two weeks, we released our 20-point plans for improving our public schools and continuing San Francisco’s environmental leadership. We have released more public plans with more detail than any other campaign.

We have received the endorsement of the teachers and the San Francisco Labor Council. Our volunteers just finished door knocking their 300th precinct!

You have helped build this campaign from the start.

We have seven weeks to go to change City Hall and take back our city. This is our time.

We have 3 days to go until the campaign fundraising deadline at midnight on Saturday. Our goal is 100 online donations by midnight on Saturday. Will you help us win this race by making a contribution before the deadline?

Thank you for everything that you have done.


Leland Yee

PS – We are on the verge of winning this campaign and taking back City Hall from the inside power brokers. Please help put us over the top with a donation.

Yee Announces Plan to Strengthen San Francisco Public Schools

SAN FRANCISCO – Today, Mayoral candidate and Senator Leland Yee unveiled his policy plan to strengthen San Francisco’s public schools. The plan, entitled “It Takes a Community,” contains 22 specific commitments that Yee will embark on as Mayor to address the underlying problems facing the city’s school system and to help turn around public education within San Francisco.

Yee – the only candidate to attend San Francisco public schools as well as send his four children to public schools – unveiled his plan today along side teachers, parents and former students at Gordon J. Lau Elementary School (formerly Commodore Stockton School), where Yee was a student as a young child.

Yee’s plan includes policies to provide affordable housing for teachers, time off for parents to participate, free Muni for low-income students, community services through school programs, and more college savings accounts.

“The best way to keep families in San Francisco is to improve public education,” said Yee. “A fully engaged and committed Mayor, who works in partnership with the school district, teachers, and parents, can make a real difference. This 22 point plan will not only help our kids, but will help our entire community and improve our economy.”

Yee began his political career as member of the San Francisco Board of Education in 1988.  Prior to serving as a Commissioner, Yee was an educator and child psychologist in the public schools. As a state legislator, Yee has fought for students and teachers – from authoring legislation to increase mental health services to voting against budget cuts to education.

As a result of his experience and commitment to public education, Yee is endorsed by the United Educators of San Francisco, California School Employees Association, and the California Nurses Association.

Yee has also been honored as the “Legislator of the Year” by the California Association of School Psychologists, California School Nutrition Association, California School Employees Association, Faculty Association of California Community Colleges, Associated Students of the University of California, and the California Faculty Association, among others.

“Leland Yee has been a child psychologist, a teacher in the classroom, and will always be an educator in his heart,” said Kim-Shree Maufas, Board of Education Commissioner. “He’s one of us, he’s been there for us, and he’s the mayor who will be best for our schools.”

“Yee’s plan for schools demonstrates his commitment to education,” said Dennis Kelly, President of the United Educators of San Francisco. “San Francisco Teachers trust Leland to prioritize our kids and schools and we are proud to support Leland Yee for Mayor.”

The highlights of Yee’s plan include:


  1. Increase student success with wrap-around “community school” services
  2. Prioritize underperforming schools for community school reforms
  3. Reduce truancy and dropout rates, and expand programs for at-risk youth
  4. Free Muni for public school kids
  5. Promote school-based healthcare services for the entire family
  6. Expand nutrition education to improve healthy eating at home
  7. Bridge the digital divide
  8. Make college a goal for every student
  9. Make the Dream Act a reality
  10. Improve language proficiency for all students


  1. Expand teacher recognition and incentive programs
  2. Teacher Power: appoint educators to city boards and commissions
  3. Develop the best future educators by recruiting the best college graduates
  4. Real affordable housing for educators
  5. Help teachers pay for classroom materials


  1. Create network of community partners to expand reach of wrap-around services
  2. Expand and formalize partnerships with universities to share space, service-learning opportunities, and align strategic plans
  3. Expand partnerships with businesses to ensure college and career connectivity
  4. Create alliance of school and parent advocacy groups to improve connectivity and collaboration


  1. Time off to attend school functions and parent-teacher conferences
  2. Support and promote the SFUSD Parent Engagement and Partnership Plan
  3. Community school wrap-around services for parents

To read Yee’s entire plan, visit www.LelandYee.com.

Yee immigrated to San Francisco at the age of 3. His father, a veteran, served in the US Army and the Merchant Marine, and his mother was a local seamstress. Yee graduated from the University of California – Berkeley, then earned a Ph.D. in Child Psychology, and later served in various mental health and school settings. He and his wife, Maxine, have raised four children who all attended San Francisco public schools. Yee has served in the State Legislature, Board of Supervisors and Board of Education.


City Workers Endorse Yee for Mayor

SEIU 1021 reject Lee, back Yee in Mayor’s Race

SAN FRANCISCO – Senator Leland Yee has landed the first choice endorsement of the largest organization of city workers – Service Employees International Union (SEIU 1021) – in his campaign for San Francisco Mayor. The move by the 54,000 member union is a complete rejection of the city’s top official, interim Mayor Ed Lee.

The endorsement comes after Yee has landed virtually every major labor endorsement in the race, including the California Nurses Association, California School Employees Association, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, San Francisco Building and Construction Trades Council, Laborers International Union, United Brotherhood of Carpenters, Communication Workers of America, and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, among others.

Yee has also been endorsed by the major environmental groups, including the Sierra Club and San Francisco Tomorrow.

“I am proud to be the labor candidate in this race and honored to receive the endorsement from SEIU 1021 and our city’s workforce, who run our city and provide us essential services,” said Yee. “SEIU 1021 represents some of our lowest paid and hardest working employees, including healthcare workers, nurses, and janitors. Together, we have fought to ensure greater transparency and accountability at City Hall and within state government. I look forward to working with SEIU as we move San Francisco forward.”

“Clearly, Leland Yee is the best choice to stand up for working families,” said Jim Stearns, Yee’s campaign manager. “Unlike some candidates, Leland doesn’t believe public employees are the enemy and he’ll fight for good-paying jobs and benefits for those who provide essential services to San Francisco residents.”

SEIU 1021 also endorsed John Avalos as a first or second choice and Bevan Dufty as a third choice.

SEIU 1021 was founded in 2007 when 10 local unions came together in northern California to form one larger, more powerful union. SEIU 1021 represents public service workers in cities, counties, courts, schools, private non-profits, special districts, public health care, and nursing.


Yee immigrated to San Francisco at the age of 3. His father, a veteran, served in the US Army and the Merchant Marine, and his mother was a local seamstress. Yee graduated from the University of California – Berkeley, then earned a Ph.D. in Child Psychology, and later served in various mental health and school settings. He and his wife, Maxine, have raised four children who all attended San Francisco public schools. Yee has served in the State Legislature, Board of Supervisors and Board of Education.

Read more at www.lelandyee.com