An undercover FBI agent gave campaign donations to an unnamed Bay Area politician during a yearslong undercover investigation into a Chinatown gang and alleged political corruption that culminated in the arrests of state Sen. Leland Yee and Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow earlier this year.
This is according to the latest filing by the U.S. Attorney's Office in the federal case against the two men and about 20 others. Besides indicating that a politician other than Yee allegedly took money from undercover FBI agents in exchange for favors, the filing further lays out the relationship between former school board member and Yee confidant Keith Jackson and the undercover agent known as UCE-4773.
In early 2012, Jackson allegedly told the undercover FBI agent that he could make contact with “a different San Francisco Bay Area elected official” other than Yee.
Jackson, the document continues, said the elected official was doing campaign fundraising and could assist in furthering the agent's interests. The agent was masquerading as an East Coast businessman looking to make real estate deals.
“UCE-4773 was subsequently courted by Individuals A and B to make donations to the elected official in excess of the lawful limit. Each spoke plainly about the fact that they would have to break up UCE-4773's donations among straw donors,” according to the federal filing.
Then, according to the filing, the agent wrote a $10,000 check to the campaign to Individual B and gave a $500 donation to the official's campaign. About a month later, Individual B allegedly asked the agent for $30,000, explaining that 60 people could be used to break up the $30,000 into individual $500 donations.
“Individual B cautioned UCE-4773 to be circumspect in the presence of the elected official and not to mention 'what we did,' in reference to the straw donations,” the filing said about a communication in advance of a meeting with the official.
A protective order signed by the judge in the case has kept many of the details of the investigation out of the public eye so as to prevent embarrassment of innocent public figures caught up in the investigation.
In July, Jackson's attorney, James Brosnahan, filed a motion to compel the government into releasing
details about the undercover FBI agent, who was allegedly removed from the investigation for financial misconduct.
In the U.S. attorney's filing, the government argues against divulging such information, and points out that Jackson led the agent to politicians, not the other way around as has been argued by Brosnahan.
The new filing also counters the image painted by Brosnahan of the undercover agent, which the attorney wrote in a Sept. 17 filing was “a wild, undisciplined, and uncontrolled investigator going after many prominent innocent public figures and elected officials.”
Instead, the government contends that “Jackson is making his case to the Court by jumping to completely unsupported conclusions.”
The government explains that payments to Jackson, for consulting fees, as well as campaign donations to politicians were part of an investigation made possible by Jackson.
The U.S. Attorney's Office goes on to say that the FBI investigation into Chow's organization, Ghee Kung Tong, became “a potential public corruption investigation.” The undercover agent infiltrating Chow's organization, the filing says, “had no interest in Senator Yee and the FBI had not anticipated a public corruption investigation as well. That such an investigation developed was due solely to Jackson initiating and repeating requests for illegal donations to Senator Yee's mayoral campaign.”