Hillary Advisor’s Anti-Chavez Past

Senator Hillary Clinton’s top advisor, Mark Penn, in addition to being involved with anti-union campaigns, also attempted to have Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez defeated in his 2004 recall referendum.

His firm at the time, Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates, released inaccurate and improbable exit polls suggesting that 59 percent of people voted in favor of recalling Chavez (four hours before the polls even closed). After all of the votes were in and counted 59 percent of Venezuelans actually voted against the recall.

Penn, at the time, claimed to have little knowledge of the poll but told the AP his partner Doug Schoen "believes there were more problems with the voting than with the exit poll."

Coincidentally, Penn’s firm decided to use the U.S.-funded anti-Chavez group Sumate to do the fieldwork for the poll. Sumate, who at the time received tens of thousands of dollars from the National Endowment for Democracy, also helped organize the recall.

More recently, the firm again released dubious polls suggesting that Chavez was at risk of being overtaken by his opponent Manuel Rosales in last year’s election. Somehow Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates was completely off again in their research as Chavez won overwhelmingly with 60 percent of the vote.

Senator Clinton’s position on Venezuela has not yet been defined on the campaign trail.