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Capitol Alert

Candidate, her father have spent millions to elect her California's lieutenant governor


Sacramento developer Angelo Tsakopoulos and his daughter Eleni Kounalakis have donated $9 million to help her become California's next lieutenant governor.

With the election days away, some of the money has been spent on television and digital ads to ensure she finishes in the top two on Tuesday and qualifies for the November election.

"We feel very good about getting through to the top two," said Katie Merrill, a spokeswoman and political consultant for Kounalakis. "Eleni has been taking nothing for granted."

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Campaign finance filings show that Kounalakis, a Democrat who helped run the family company and served as an ambassador to Hungary during the Obama administration, has given her campaign $4.2 million since last year.

Tsakopoulos, a prominent local figure and founder of AKT Development, has contributed another $4.8 million thus far to an independent expenditure committee to support her race. The California Medical Association, a legislative foe of Kounalakis' opponent Sen. Ed Hernandez, has given $100,000 to the committee.

Late last week, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America intervened in the campaign to drop $200,000 into the pro-Kounalakis committee. Hernandez previously accepted money from drug companies during his legislative career but battled the industry to pass a drug-pricing transparency law in 2017.

"I’m not surprised, to be honest," Hernandez said about drug makers donating to Kounalakis. "Big Pharma did this because I've been an advocate for lowering drug prices and fighting against their policies."

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