SACRAMENTO (AP) — A state senator indicted on federal charges used campaign money to pay for flights to the Philippines and events at a San Francisco restaurant, activities that have possible links to gun-running and bribery allegations, a newspaper reported Friday.
Records show Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, flew to the Philippines in 2008 and 2012, according to The Sacramento Bee. Federal officials allege he tried to coordinate a gun-running operation from that country.
His Senate campaign committee paid $894 in September 2008 for a flight to Manila, while his officeholder account paid $246 in July 2012 for a flight to Manila for a “governmental fact-finding” trip lasting from July 12 through July 30.
The federal complaint quotes Yee as telling an undercover agent in March 2014 that he had gone to Mindanao, the southernmost island in the Philippines, at the invitation of the Mindanao government about two years ago.
He also spent $62,000 at a restaurant that hosted many events for what federal prosecutors say is a San Francisco gang.
The complaint says the New Asia Restaurant was the site for many events hosted by Chee Kung Tong. The government alleges that Chee Kung Tong is a criminal organization led by Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow, who also faces federal charges.
It is by far the most money paid by Yee’s campaign to any restaurant.
The dinners included a March 2013 event during which an aide to Yee presented a Senate proclamation honoring Chee Kung Tong. The government says Yee pushed for the proclamation after an undercover agent gave $6,800 to Yee’s secretary of state campaign.
It also was the site of a March 2011 dinner during which the undercover agent was sworn in to the organization.
Most of the campaign payments were listed as fundraising expenses, with one event costing nearly $7,000. The rest were described as meetings, with one January 2007 event costing $12,346.
The restaurant’s owner, Hon Keung So, also is charged with buying 15 cases of stolen Johnnie Walker Blue Label Scotch in September 2012 from an undercover agent.