By PAUL ELIAS
2014-03-27 03:01 AM
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- A California state senator was arrested Wednesday during a series of raids by the FBI in Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area, authorities said.
FBI spokesman Peter Lee confirmed the arrest of State Sen. Leland Yee, but declined to discuss the charges, citing an ongoing investigation.
The agency was executing numerous arrests and search warrants in the Bay Area, FBI Special Agent Michael Gimbel said outside the offices of Ghee Kung Tong, a fraternal organization in San Francisco's Chinatown that was among the sites searched.
Lee said a second man, Raymond Chow, was also arrested. Chow, who was known as "Shrimp Boy," was reportedly the head of Ghee Kung Tong and had returned to Chinatown after serving time in prison on gun charges.
The FBI also searched Yee's office, Mark Hedlund, spokesman for Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, confirmed.
Yee, a Democrat, represents western San Francisco and much of San Mateo County.
Yee, 65, is best known publicly for his efforts to strengthen open records, government transparency and whistleblower protection laws, including legislation to close a loophole in state public records laws after the CSU Stanislaus Foundation refused to release its $75,000 speaking contract with former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin in 2010.
Yee is among three Democrats running this year for secretary of state, the office that oversees elections and campaign finance reporting. He lost a bid for mayor of San Francisco in 2011.
His arrest came as a shock to Chinese-Americans who see the senator as a pioneering leader in the community and a mainstay of San Francisco politics, said David Lee, director of the Chinese American Voters Education Committee.
"People are waiting to see what happens, and they are hoping for the best, that the charges turn out not to be true," said Lee, whose organization just held a get-out-the-vote event with Yee and other Chinese-American elected officials last week.
Chow acknowledged in an unpublished autobiography that he ran prostitution rings in the 1980s, smuggled drugs and extorted thousands from business owners as a Chinatown gang member, KGO-TV reported two years ago. But he told the station he had changed and was working with at-risk children in San Francisco.
Associated Press writers Terry Collins, Garance Burke and Jason Dearen in San Francisco; and Judy Lin and Juliet Williams in Sacramento, Calif., contributed to this report.