If it is true that state Sen.
Yee, a San Francisco Democrat, was swept up in an
According to the affidavit, Yee made some minimal efforts to draw a line between out-and-out bribery and the normal way of doing business, complaining when the undercover agent openly discussed how much he would pay for specific political favors. Yet perhaps because he was desperate for money, Yee "never walked away from quid pro quo requests."
Yee now faces the possibility of prison time. So does Calderon, a Democrat from Montebello, who is accused of soliciting and accepting bribes to push legislation. But there are many transactions between politicians and donors that occur on the legal side of the line with no explicit promises but that work on the same principle — campaign cash for political favors. Why else is there such a feverish flurry of contributions in the final days of the legislative session in Sacramento, when most bills are passed or killed?
It takes between $700,000 and $1 million, on average, to win a seat in the Legislature. The sheer cost of running, coupled with term limits that keep politicians perpetually jockeying for the next open seat, have created a culture in which legislators are always in need of additional donations. Even those who don't break the law are aware of how the game must be played.