Candidate’s financial history under scrutiny in California controller’s race
By Taryn Luna
October 5, 2022
Malia Cohen is vying to become the chief fiscal officer for the most populous state in the nation, overseeing more than $100 billion in receipts and disbursements of public funds every year.
But the only Democrat in the November contest for California controller is facing scrutiny over the recent suspension of a business license and the foreclosure of her San Francisco condo more than a decade ago.
Her Republican opponent, Lanhee Chen, is pointing to her Cohen’s personal financial problems in questioning her fitness for the office.
Franchise Tax Board records show that the license for Cohen’s social media consulting firm, Power Forward, was suspended for “failure to file” a tax return and “failure to pay” taxes in March 2021.
Cohen, who is chair of the Board of Equalization, told The Times that she could not remember why the license was suspended.
“I cannot explain what happened there because I don’t recall,” Cohen said. “I filed a closure for that before — I think it was in 2019 — because Power Forward wasn’t in operation.”
“How does Malia Cohen expect to be able to be the chief fiscal officer for one of the largest economies in the world when she can’t even handle her own finances?” Chen said.
She said she stopped making mortgage payments in hopes that the bank would renegotiate the terms of her loan — not because she couldn’t afford to pay.
“I received advice that told me, ‘Hold back your payments; save them to negotiate with the bank the refinancing of your loans,’” she said. “So my financial state didn’t change. It was the quality of advice that I received.”
Cohen said she did not remember how she came to the decision to walk away from the property.
“I cannot speak to where my head was being in that space,” she said. “I mean, it was traumatic. Honestly, I just don’t recall it anymore.”