Dem seeking to serve as California’s next financial watchdog took 2006 trip to study socialism in Venezuela

By | September 13, 2022

A Democrat running for election to serve as California state controller, the state’s independent fiscal watchdog, traveled to Venezuela in 2006 to learn about Hugo Chavez’s socialist revolution.

Malia Cohen, a Democrat running for the position who has received praise from Democratic leadership, currently serves as a member of the California State Board of Equalization and made the 10-day trip to the socialist country for $1,250.

Cohen’s trip to the country was documented in a CNN story about the group’s tour, with Cohen claiming that “revolutionary thought” is “generational” as it showed an image of her gazing at a mural featuring a quote from Venezuelan leader Simon Bolivar that roughly translates to: “The health of a Republic depends on the morality acquired by education of citizens in childhood.…”

“The revolutionary thought and mindset is generational,” Cohen told the outlet at the time. “What we see in the United States, and you really don’t see grandparents and parents and even young as active politically.”


Other murals are also featured in the CNN segment, including one that showed hands labeled as different countries pulling apart a swastika and another showing the phrase “Luchando, creando poder popular,” — a rallying cry of a Marxist organization in Chile known as the Grupos Accion Popular meaning “fighting, creating popular power.”

The trip taken to Venezuela by Cohen and others was allegedly sponsored by a San Francisco-based group called Global Exchange.

A brochure shared to Global Exchange’s website for a trip costing $1,250 to Venezuela in September 2006 showcased the socialist revolution in the country positively.

“Something remarkable is happening in Venezuela,” the brochure stated. “The lives of millions of Venezuelans are improving as historic wrongs are being righted. The world’s fifth-largest oil producer, Venezuela has long been a country of contrasts: despite its great wealth, 80% of Venezuelans live in poverty. Now, for the first time, millions of Venezuelans have access to education, job training, housing, land, clean water, health care, and something maybe even more precious: dignity.”


Cohen, who previously served as a member of the San Francisco County Board of Supervisors and endorsed now-Vice President Kamala Harris in her presidential endeavors, reportedly ran one of California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s previous mayoral campaign offices in 2003. In addition, she served as an executive assistant to Steve Kava, Newsom’s chief of staff in 2005, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Cohen has received several endorsements in her race to serve as controller, including ones from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democratic Rep. Karen Bass, current California State Controller Betty Yee, and others.

Should she come out on top in the election against Lanhee Chen — a Republican candidate who won the second spot on the November ballot in California’s nonpartisan open primary — Cohen will be tasked with providing sound fiscal control over hundreds of billions of dollars in receipts and disbursements of public funds a year, offering fiscal guidance to local governments, and uncovering abuse and fraud of taxpayer dollars.

The state controller sits on nearly 80 different boards and commissions, according to Those boards and commissions include the governing boards of the two largest public pension programs in America, CalPERS and CalSTRS. The controller effectively serves as the chief financial officer for the state — which would have the fifth-largest economy in the world if California were a country.