A Republican candidate for New York’s first congressional district has close family ties to major Democratic donors, including the business partner of Paul Pelosi, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D., Calif.) husband.
George Demos is mounting his third campaign for the Republican spot on the ticket in the Long Island district
Demos is the son-in-law of Angelo Tsakopoulos, a wealthy California businessman and close confidante to Bill and Hillary Clinton. His wife Chrysa has, like her parents, donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democrats in recent years.
Angelo Tsakopoulos is "about as big as it gets" in California Democratic politics, and was the fourth biggest donor in the 2008 election cycle, not far behind DreamWorks executive Jeffrey Katzenberg. He contributed $338,700 that year, 97 percent of which went to Democratic candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
A "huge source of cash for Democratic politicians," according to the Washington Post, Angelo Tsakopoulos served as the national chair of Greek-Americans for Bill Clinton during his 1992 and 1996 campaigns. He told the Greek Reporter last year that Hillary would run for president in 2016, per a conversation with Bill.
This is Demos’ third attempt to garner the Republican nomination.
In the 2010 Republican primary he came in second with 31 percent of the vote, and in 2012 dropped out of the race, citing his imminent marriage to Chrysa Tsakopoulos.
Demos already has $2.1 million in the bank this year, thanks to two $1 million personal loans to his campaign. He has received roughly $200,000 in individual contributions.
Chrysa Tsakopoulos has donated over $200,000 to Democratic candidates and political action committees, according to the Federal Election Commission (FEC). She has contributed thousands to liberal Democrats, including Hillary Clinton and California Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein.
Only 2.7 percent of the $270,527 she donated between 2004 and 2011 went to Republican candidates.
Angelo Tsakopoulos is the founder and owner of AKT Development, a real estate company that has helped the family’s "admirers," the Pelosi’s, make millions over the years. Tsakopoulos himself is worth an estimated $600 million.
Nancy Pelosi came under controversy in 2011 for not disclosing her husband Paul’s business dealings with Mr. Tsakopoulos in her past financial disclosure forms. She failed to list an investment worth as much as $25 million, according to the Washington Times.
Paul Pelosi had already earned between $1.4 million and $9 million from investments with Angelo Tsakopoulos since 1991.
Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis, Angelo Tsakopoulos’s other daughter, is also well connected in Democratic circles, and close friend to Mrs. Pelosi.
Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis raised more than $1 million for Hillary Clinton during her 2008 primary battle with Barack Obama, and was named the U.S. Ambassador to Hungary in 2010, where she served until July 2013.
Then-House Speaker Pelosi and her husband Paul sat in the front row for Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis’ Senate confirmation hearing. "My husband and I are here as friends of the family and admirers of the Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis family," she said.
"Everybody’s heard of the Reagan Democrat. George Demos is the world’s first Pelosi Republican," David Laska, communications director for the New York Republican State Committee, told the Washington Free Beacon.
Laska criticized Demos’ campaign as taking "tainted money" from the Tsakopoulos family.
"This is somebody who has been running for office consistently for four years, in a district in which he does not live," he said. "And when he fails catastrophically at gaining any real traction or support from either the Republican party or grassroots activists he decided he would try to buy his way into the Republican line with tainted money from his father-in-law, who is one of the most prolific donors to west-coast liberal interests in America."
The Demos campaign contends that he is an anti-establishment candidate. He received an endorsement in 2010 from conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, who called the candidate a "literal Rush Baby." Limbaugh read a letter that Demos wrote to him in 1995, where Demos called himself an "18-year-old private of the Dittohead reserves."
Limbaugh described Demos as a "conservative that the GOP power structure is trying to run out."
On his campaign website, Demos lays out his positions as a pro-life conservative for "cutting wasteful spending," "lowering taxes," and "strengthening national security."
Demos had the support of the Tsakopoulos family in his previous races, receiving $9,600 for his first bid.
He received maximum $2,500 contributions from Angelo, Alexandra Tsakopoulos, Athena Tsakopoulos, Kyriakos Tsakopoulos, and Chrysa in 2012, totaling $12,500, which was refunded following his departure from the race, according to the FEC.
Demos is running against State Sen. Lee Zeldin (R.) for the chance to challenge Democratic incumbent Tim Bishop, who has represented the district since 2003.
When asked about his family ties by the Free Beacon, Demos’ campaign spokesman instead criticized Zeldin, saying he is an "establishment" candidate who supports Obamacare.
"Since Lee Zeldin got caught voting for Obamacare with the rest of the Albany crowd, his supporters are trying to say it was only a vote to allow federal money to pass through to the state," said Kevin Tschirhart, Demos’ campaign manager. "Exactly. It allowed Obamacare to be funded in New York State."
Demos is spending $30,000 a week to run television ads in Long Island that attempt to tie Zeldin to the president’s health care law, according to the New York Daily News. Zeldin’s campaign called the ad an "irresponsible lie."
"By the way, the George Demos is running for Congress—not his cousins, uncles, aunts, in laws, or wife," Tschirhart said.
"The establishment is scared and ashamed of exposure," he added. "Their days are numbered."
Tschirhart did not address questions about Demos’ connection to the Tsakopoulos family, his wife’s donations to Democrats, or whether his in-laws have held fundraisers for the Demos campaign.
The primary is scheduled to take place on June 24.