Lanhee Chen GOP Policy Adviser, Enters California Controller Race

SDM News

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Lanhee Chen, a scholar and previous policy consultant for Republican aspirants which include 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, declared on Tuesday that he’s entering the California controller.

The controller is the region’s lead financial officer. The person elected for the post is in charge of disbursing state cash and has the authority to review state businesses and programs, something Chen stated he’d use frequently if elected. California’s high-speed rail program, Medicaid project and the employment agencies would be his main targets. 

He believes screw ups in the state’s Employment Development Department that brought about fraud in massive amounts and hundreds of thousands of Californians receiving delayed unemployment checks during the early months of the pandemic might have been prevented with more consistent supervision. 

“If they had been more aggressive at regularly auditing, I really think we wouldn’t be in the position we find ourselves in today,” he said.

Controller Betty Yee, a Democrat, will be leaving the office in 2022. Under her leadership, the controller’s office has managed to discover over $6 billion in waste, abuse and monetary mismanagement all over state authorities since 2015, in line with information on the department’s website.

Malia Cohen and Yvonne Yiu, Board of Equalization member and Monterey Park Mayor respectively, are declared Democrat aspirants for controller.

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Charles Daraphak/ AP Photos

Chen has an extended track record in Republican politics. He served as the policy director for Romney’s race (which he lost) in opposition to the then-President Barack Obama, assisting to hone the campaign’s positions on practically everything from medical care to foreign policy. He additionally held a policy position with the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

He was also in government employment as an appointee during former President George W. Bush’s administration in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. From the year 2015 to 2019, he was an appointed member of the Social Security Advisory Board.

Running as a Republican automatically places Chen at a political downside in California, where only a quarter of registered voters identify with the party. The Republican party hasn’t won any statewide position since 2006 ,when Arnold Schwarzenegger was re-elected as governor.

However, Chen hopes he can win over citizens with a dedication to bringing extra transparency and supervision to how the state spends taxpayer money. Voters “need a person who will simply be direct with them about what’s happening in the state,” he said.

Chen declined to reply whether or not he voted for former President Donald Trump, who lost California two times and is deeply unpopular amongst a number of the state’s citizens. One of California Democrats’ techniques is to link Republicans to Trump on every occasion possible.

Chen is the child of immigrants from Taiwan. He now lives in Mountain View with his spouse and their children, ages 7 and 10.

He’s now affiliated with Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, in which he serves as a fellow in American public policy research and a director of policy research in the public policy program.

Although the state controller does not make policy, Chen stated that his history in policy will assist him in thinking up ideas and bringing fresh thinking to the office, which includes a way to better offer supervision of state businesses and programs. He also has a few financial and budget review experience via his work as a board member at El Camino Hospital, he mentioned.

An earlier version of his story said Chen is a member of the Social Security Advisory Board. He left that role in 2019

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