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California legislator who wrote anti-game violence bill arrested on corruption charges

Office of Leland Yee
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

California state senator Leland Yee, who wrote the law the Supreme Court overturned in a landmark 2011 decision establishing video games as a form of protected expression, was arrested on charges of bribery and corruption Wednesday morning, according to several news reports.

The FBI raided Yee's office at the state capitol in Sacramento, reported KCRA-TV, and the FBI also raided homes and businesses elsewhere in the city and in the Bay Area, where Yee's district is located.

Yee is a candidate for California secretary of state.

KGO-TV of San Francisco reported that the FBI sweep involves suspected gang members.

Polygon has reached out to the FBI for comment and further details. Yee's spokesman declined comment to Polygon but said the senator's office would release a statement later this afternoon.

Yee, 65, sponsored the 2005 bill that became the basis for Schwarzenegger v. Entertainment Merchants Association, a 2011 Supreme Court decision ruling that video games were protected speech under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the same as books, films, and other works.

Yee's law had established criminal penalties for anyone selling a "violent video game," as defined by the state, to a minor. Days after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed it into law, the Entertainment Merchants Association, with the Entertainment Software Association, filed a lawsuit against the state calling the law an unconstitutional prior restraint of speech.

A federal district court judge agreed and a federal appellate court affirmed that decision. California appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which then ruled 7-2 in favor of the EMA.

Yee, a child psychologist before beginning his legislative career in 2002, remained a vocal antagonist of video games. In early 2013 he told video gamers to "just quiet down," and that they "have no credibility," in the argument over violent games, which had renewed in light of the December 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

"This is all about their lust for violence and the industry's lust for money," Yee said. "This is a billion-dollar industry. This is about their self-interest." He later apologized for the remarks.

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