This is a sampling from Bay Area News Group's Political Blotter blog. Read more and post comments at www.ibabuzz.com/politics.
Leland Yee, the Democratic state senator from San Francisco indicted by a federal grand jury on charges of taking bribes and conspiring to broker an international arms deal, finished third in a field of eight candidates for Secretary of State in Tuesday's primary.
No, really. As of now, 287,590 votes have been counted for Yee -- a number that will rise at least slightly as registrars around the state tally the final wave of vote-by-mail and provisional ballots. Yee had announced that he was dropping out of the race to be California's top elections and political transparency watchdog right after he was charged with crimes that could put him in prison for life, but it was too late to remove his name from the ballot.
My first take-away is that it sucks to be one of the five candidates who came in behind him. I'd call and ask them, but I'll have mercy; if I were one of them, I'd be hung over for days and not taking calls.
I see a few possible explanations for Yee's strong finish, and I suppose it's probably a mix of several:
1) Some voters have a perverse sense of humor and don't care much who the secretary of state will be anyway.
2) This could help prove the old axiom that there's no such thing as bad publicity. Then again, that didn't help Mary Hayashi.
3) Some voters live under rocks, without access to the Internet, radio, television or newspapers. Then again, he still came in third in San Francisco, where news of his arrest and indictment was practically inescapable.
4) Some voters don't think the charges against Yee are true. (Note to those voters: Read the federal agent's affidavit supporting the charges. It's a barnburner!)
That point leads to my second take-away, which is that the real winner in this primary election is James Lassart, Yee's attorney. He must feel at least a little better today about his future prospects in picking a jury.
"Dancing hamster arrested on insurance fraud charges."
Best headline ever, no? It arrived in my inbox a few minutes ago atop a news release from California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones, announcing the arrest of Leroy Barnes, 27, of Los Angeles, known as one of the dancing hamsters in Kia commercials.
Barnes faces insurance fraud charges related to his suspected collection of state disability insurance benefits under false pretenses.
"Fraudulently collecting disability benefits is not only illegal, it disrespects legitimately injured Californians who are unable to work," Jones said as solemnly as one can in a news release involving dancing hamsters.
Jones' release says that Barnes in June 2010, while employed as a dancer for John Cossette Productions, was struck by a piece of ceiling that fell on him during a sound check; Barnes then received state disability insurance benefits from September 2010 to September 2011, totaling more than $51,000.
But while he said he was unemployed during the year he received that money, detectives discovered evidence that he actually starred in a Kia car commercial playing the role of a dancing hamster, according to the news release. He also performed in a rap group called The Rej3ctz under the alias MoWii, assisting in recording the song "Cat Daddy," and also worked as a backup dancer for Madonna, Kelly Rowland and Chris Brown under the name Hypnosis.