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Senate GOP leader believes Yee introduced him to undercover FBI agent

Senate GOP leader believes Yee introduced him to undercover FBI agent
State Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) leaves Federal Court in San Francisco on Wednesday. (Karl Mondon / MCT)

SACRAMENTO -- A Senate leader may have solved one mystery raised in an FBI affidavit released after the arrest Wednesday of state Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) on suspicion of wire fraud and firearms trafficking: the identity of "State Senator 2."

The affidavit alleges that Yee accepted $21,000 in campaign payments from an undercover FBI agent posing as an Arizona man in the medical marijuana business to arrange meetings with two unidentified state lawmakers in 2013.

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On Aug. 26, 2013, Yee introduced the undercover agent to a legislator identified in the affidavit only as "State Senator 2" and Yee received $10,000 for his seceretary of state campaign for that introduction, the document alleges.

Senate Republican leader Robert Huff of Diamond Bar said Thursday he met with Yee and a man who said he was in the medical marijuana business out of state on the date in the affidavit.

"I met with Yee and some guy with long hair at 3:50 pm," Huff recalled. "Yee had called over and wanted to know if he could bring somebody by and I had some time between meetings so I said, 'Sure, bring him on by.'"

The businessman, whose name Huff could not recall, wanted to know what objections Republicans have to legalizing marijuana in California. "He said he ran a medical marijuana business out of the state and wanted to expand his business model into California and wanted to know what were the roadblocks to that," Huff said.

The affidavit said the undercover FBI agent, identified as UCE 4180, posed as a businessman from Arizona who told Yee he wanted to be "the Anheuser-Busch of medical marijuana," a reference to the successful beer company. The undercover agent told Yee that he wanted regulation that would make it hard for others to compete with his business if he moved into California.

"I said for all practical purposes its already legal in California," Huff recalled. "I told him I felt it was a gateway drug and if you talk to the D.A.'s and the law enforcement they don't want to see it legalized either. They think it leads to other crime."

The affidavit says that during the meeting "Senator Yee advocated for UCE 4180's position of heavy regulation of medical marijuana, saying at one point, if medical marijuana is going to become mainstream, 'You've got to have these kinds of barriers' that UCE 4180 wants.'"

Huff said neither Yee nor the supposed businessman asked him to support any specific legislation, but he still feels deceived by Yee about the purpose of the visit.

"It's unfortunate," Huff said. "We give professional courtesy to other senators who have somebody they want to introduce but  I don't think they are getting paid for that introduction."

In addition, the notation in Huff's calendar said Yee wanted to introduce him to a man named Keith Jackson, but Huff said the man was not Jackson, who was a political advisor to Yee and who was also arrested by the FBI on Thursday.

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