Politics & Government

Senate panel approves Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis as ambassador to Hungary

WASHINGTON -- The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the nomination of Sacramento real estate developer and philanthropist Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis to become the next ambassador to Hungary.

With no debate, Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis and 11 other ambassadorial nominees won confirmation on a voice vote. The committee had vetted the nominees privately and in a public hearing last month.

Her nomination now goes to the full Senate, where she's expected to be easily confirmed.

At the committee hearing last month, Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis said she would focus on economic and energy issues in her new post. A graduate of New Hampshire's Dartmouth College, she said her experience in the private sector would help her in the job and that she would work to increase foreign investment in Hungary.

Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis, who was nominated by President Barack Obama in October, previously served as president of AKT Development Corp., one of California's largest land development firms.

She has also been a major Democratic contributor. She and her father, Angelo K. Tsakopoulos, helped finance the unsuccessful 2006 gubernatorial campaign of Democrat Phil Angelides, and she raised money for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign as the head of Greek-Americans for Clinton.

Her husband, Markos Kounalakis, is the publisher of Washington Monthly.