Video game enthusiasts might recognize California state senator Leland Yee as one of the biggest critics of violent video games. Yesterday, he and 25 other defendants were arrested and tried for fraud and gun trafficking of all things. Can someone open a dictionary and look up the word irony for me, because I think this might be it?
Yee is most famous for sponsoring a 2005 anti-violent video game bill which would criminally punish anyone who sells a violent video game to an minor. The Entertainment Merchants Association filed lawsuit the day after Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed it into law, which led to the landmark Supreme Court case Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association. A 7-2 Supreme Court decision guaranteed all video games protection under freedom of speech.
FBI agents raided Yee’s office in Sacramento, and a press release from the United State’s Attorney’s office states he and another defendant, Keith Jackson, are guilty of “soliciting donations from FBI undercover agents, in exchange for multiple official acts” to fund his Secretary of State campaign.
In August of 2013, Jackson also accepted donations in order for Yee to “facilitate a meeting with the arms dealer with the intent of the undercover agent to purportedly purchase a large number of weapons.”
His frequent run-ins with the video game industry stemmed from his roots as a child psychologist before turning to the world of law. He had blunt exchanges with video gamers, stating they should “just quiet down” and “have no credibility” following debates about the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting tragedy.
“This is all about their lust for violence and the industry’s lust for money,” Yee said in remarks he later apologized for. “This is a billion-dollar industry. This is about their self-interest.”
Yee’s violations can carry five to 20 years in prison, and each count could come with a fine of $250,000.