George Soros has donated the maximum amount permissible to the top deputy of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom of California in her gubernatorial campaign to succeed him.
Soros is a leading donor to left-wing and Democratic causes, with his donations being routed either through his family office, Soros Fund Management, or his philanthropic organization, the Open Society Foundations. His donation, of $36,400, was made to Democratic Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis of California, who has launched a campaign to succeed Newsom in the 2026 election, according to a filing with the California Secretary of State’s office published on Thursday.
Soros donated the maximum amount permissible under California state law to Kounalakis’ campaign, though he has not made an endorsement in the race. Kounalakis announced her campaign in April, nearly three years ahead of the first round of voting in the race under California’s blanket primary system, where all candidates are placed on a single ballot, with the top two advancing to a runoff election.
Kounalakis has served as California’s lieutenant governor since 2019 when she was elected independently from Newsom. Her campaign has already received endorsements from prominent Democratic politicians, such as former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer of California and incumbent Democratic Rep. Mike Thompson of California, who represents the Napa Valley region.
Kounalakis is the daughter of wealthy Greek-American businessman Angelo Tsakopolous, a real estate developer who owns nearly 47,000 acres of land in Sacramento, the state capital. Kounalakis previously served as the U.S. Ambassador to Hungary from 2010 to 2013 under President Barack Obama.
Soros has been strongly criticized by Republicans for his donations to left-wing political groups in both the United States and Hungary, often through his group Open Society Foundations, and is a frequent target of criticism from Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Soros was the biggest political donor in the United States during the 2022 midterm elections, having given $178 million to Democratic interests, per OpenSecrets.org.
Soros recently handed control of the Open Society Foundations to his son, Alexander Soros, who is a professor at Bard College in New York.
Kounalakis and Soros Fund Management did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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