State Senate President Calls on Yee to Resign After Arrest

State Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg on Wednesday called on state Sen. Leland Yee to resign following his arrest on federal charges including soliciting bribes for political favors and conspiring to traffic in firearms.

The federal indictment against Yee, D-San Francisco, and 25 other people includes charges of conspiracy to receive and transport stolen property, money laundering, and murder for hire.

Steinberg, D-Sacramento, spoke in response to the arrest Wednesday in Sacramento flanked by a number of his fellow state senators.

Calling the charges in the indictment "sickening," and "shocking and surreal," Steinberg called upon Yee to resign.

"Leave. Don't burden your colleagues and this great institution with your troubles. Leave," Steinberg said.

Steinberg said senators were prepared to move to suspend Yee if he did not resign, and would remove him from all his committee positions.

"I am angry," Steinberg said. "I'm angry on behalf of the people and I'm angry on behalf of the 37 other members whose hard work everyday on behalf of the people is being tarnished because of events outside of their control and outside of our control."

Just last week, the Society for Professional Journalists handed state Sen. Leland Yee an award for his work fostering government transparency.

There was widespread shock on Wednesday about Yee's arrest, and how much he may have been hiding.

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, a fellow San Francisco Democrat, said he was shocked on hearing of Yee's arrest.

A spokesman for Ammiano said the Assemblyman's thoughts on Wednesday were with Yee's family, because he has known them since they were on the city's school board together.

Despite the shocking nature of the allegations, some experts believe there will not be much political fallout from the expected demise of Yee's political career.

David Latterman, a lecturer on politics for the University of San Francisco, said there shouldn't be heavy repercussions because Yee did not have many close ties to other politicians that could fall.

"If this was Ammiano or (State Sen. Mark) Leno, this would be a much bigger deal. They both have a lot of other politicians who model themselves after them and call themselves protégés," Latterman said. "You can't do that with Yee."

He also said there aren't likely to be votes on any upcoming bills that would be impacted by today's indictment.

As for negative impacts on the Democratic party, Latterman said he also expects those to be minimal.

"I don't think the Republicans can make too much hay of this," Latterman said. "There's always a few bad apples in any party."

Derek Cressman, who is running against Yee for Secretary of State, disagrees with Latterman's assessment. He said what happened today should be a "wake up call," and that, "We are clearly beyond the point of looking at one bad apple and instead looking at a corrupt institution in the California senate."

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