Is George Pataki denying his Hungarian roots in the GOP race?

Today, no American politician wants to be identified with Hungary; George Pataki, the 70 years old ex-Governor of the State of New York is no exception. His father’s family came from Hungary, while his mother’s parents were Irish and Italian immigrants. He even speaks some Hungarian! Last December at the annual Mikulás dinner of the Hungarian American Coalition, the organization’s president, Maximillian Teleki, asked everybody to join him in encouraging Pataki to run for the US Presidency.

In May, Mr. Pataki announced that he is joining the GOP race. Mr. Teleki was elated: “As a close friend and a fellow Hungarian American, we can be proud of George Pataki. I am very honored to be by his side here in New Hampshire on this historic occasion. I know all Hungarian Americans can take pride regardless of party affiliation.” Mr. Pataki and Mr. Teleki are also business associates, in the past they served together on the board of E-Star, an already bankrupt Hungarian energy company.

Indeed, Gov. Pataki has close ties to Hungary. He owns a vinery there, and in 2012 he announced that he will apply for Hungarian citizenship. His daughter, Allison, is “the ambassador” for the Hungarian ReConnect program and his son (Owen) also visited Budapest recently. (Allison Pataki is lobbying for ReConnect in this video.)

HAC President Maximillian Teleki, Ambassador Réka Szemerkényi and Gov. George Pataki.

HAC President Maximillian Teleki, Ambassador Réka Szemerkényi and Gov. George Pataki.

A couple of weeks ago, Mr. Pataki appeared on the MSNBC TV program with Joe Scarborough to talk about his political agenda and in the show he proudly mentioned his family background noting his Irish and Italian grandparents. How about the Hungarian grandparents?

Pataki conveniently forgot about them.

The Hungarian American Coalition immediately issued a Facebook warning: “Gov. Pataki, you only mentioned your Irish and Italian grandparents on Morning Joe this morning. If you count on Hungarian-American votes, don’t forget to mention your Hungarian ancestry next time!” (Watch Gov. Pataki after 4th minute.)

To be honest, I don’t blame Pataki. He knows well that his Hungarian background won’t bring votes, in fact the Orbán Government’s reputation is so horrific that he might actually lose supporters. His fellow republican, Senator John McCain has called Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán “a neo-Fascist dictator” and Pataki also knows that most Hungarian Americans are registered democrats and they won’t be eligible to vote in closed primary states.

On September 29 the Hungarian American Coalition hosted its annual Gala Dinner in Washington DC at the House of Sweden. Gov. Pataki was there and assured his pals that he is extremely proud of his Hungarian grandparents. Of course he did so behind closed doors, not on cable television in the middle of an election campaign!

György Lázár


  1. Pataki is not denying his HU parentage, as an example of ultimate opportunistic pragmatist, he is merely omitting it, as the writer points out. Pataki is a good old boy and has always talked out of both corners of his mouth. “Pataki” name sounds ok-immigrant, since it it can be anything. It is too late now to change his brand to “George O’Torrente” thanks google translate. These types of politicos always have a pro forma explanation for their spineless self-serving behaviour.

  2. Avatar Charlie London says:

    ‘Denying’ Hungary is sadly growing.

    Such is the pariah state and pariah status of their Viktator that many people are ashamed of their Hungarian roots.

    I have mentioned on here before that I am forbidden by my partner from mentioning her country of origin to those who don’t know.

    Many fellow Hungarians she meets express the same sentiments.

    I couldn’t imagine ever denying my English roots – it’s a shocking cleaving of heart and soul and goes to the very roots of your being to deny it.

    So sad.

    • Avatar Christopher Adam says:

      A agree, Charlie, and it is a real sad state of affairs. I have never felt that I need to conceal or explain away my Canadian identity, even if Canada’s current government has been somewhat controversial on the world stage, with its foreign policy direction and its approach to climate change.

      But when it comes to Hungary and my Hungarian origins, I now regularly receive snide, sarcastic remarks about Orbán and the ‘old country’s’ current government from non-Hungarians. Just a couple of days ago, a Canadian friend of mine wrote me on Facebook to tell me that he had to wake up hearing Orbán’s voice on the radio, in a news broadcast on the refugee situation. Or when I was in Israel a few weeks ago, the clerk in a souvenir shop in Haifa asked me where I was from and my heritage, as I happened to be with an elderly relative, who spoke Hungarian with me. When I told her, she shuddered and said that she would not want to go to Hungary now.

  3. Yes, I also heard Orbania’s surprisingly well articulated, though disgusting message on CBC Radio. Something did stick from an Oxford education. With respect to those individuals who nowadays deny or at least omit their HU background, I would respectfully ask why. You are not Orban, unless you have been and are advising him to take these steps and are conspiring to financially and morally rape the nation, you ought to disclose background, when asked. I just started telling because it gives a perfect opportunity for discussion. My experience has been that people know that the government mob and not the people make such inhumane decisions.

    • Avatar Charlie London says:

      Yes, maybe.

      But unfortunately Orban carries too many of his population to free and separate them from his warped ideology.

      I’m not tarring everyone with the same brush – and its definitely not ⅔’s.

      But it’s a worrying nasty right-wing faction.

      As I’ve indicated before Gyor – which I have experience of – returned 62% vote. Second only to Vac’s country with 63% for Fidesz.

      Then there’s Jobbik.

      No. You can’t absolve the population completely.

      • Avatar Charlie London says:

        And btw ‘Oxford’ was a failure. Nothing completed and poor attendance for a year.

        Poor value for Soros.

        Only looks good on the CV if you ‘give it the large’.

        • Avatar Charlie London says:

          And (finally!) how can the population – yes the population – and the RC Church – continue to discriminate a 10% sector of the Hungarian population?

          They are 100% Hungarian and are a shocking underclass.

          Ghettoised, intimidated, persecuted and murdered.

          So badly treated that they too deny their Hungarian roots. And no wonder.

          You know who I mean.

          Liz Aucoin can explain better.

  4. Avatar Miklos Banfi says:

    Although I agree with the above comments, it is dangerous to generalize either way. Now that we have become front page news in the western media, what Agi Vezér expressed unfortunately started to change. Before when they asked me about the last 5 years here in Toronto it was easy to say that all those bad rep only assossiated with the dictatorship. Now on the bigger scale the Hungarians, as a nation said to be racist and inhumane, which is partially true unfortunately, since even the opposition is showing painful facts of that.

  5. Bezzeg, ha becsodoltunk volna a szuperul kommunikalo baloldallal, milyen buszkek lehetnenk itt Amerikaban… Ez egy vicc.

    • Do not give a damn Andras! Those writing about shaming their “hungarian roots” are not hungarian! They are hungarian-haters (antihunitas).

  6. Avatar Laszlo Teleki says:

    Dear Friends: As a long time member of the Hungarian American Coalition (HAC) and coincidentally a life-long Democrat, I wasn’t aware that myself, members of HAC, nor my cousin Max was a member of any pro Orban right-wing diaspora! Thank you for the breaking news. This sounds like the same stale -hyperbolic rhetoric we’ve come to expect from George Lazar, who has an unfortunate reputation of writing one sided articles. For the record, HAC is a nonpartisan and nonprofit organization with many members – from both political persuasions. We do a great deal of work on fighting against anti-Semitism, anti-ethnic, issues in Central E-Europe. We work closely with the Lantos Foundation and the Tom-Lantos Inst. fighting for tolerance. To my knowledge, we are consistently being criticized for NOT defending the current Hungarian Gov. and PM Orban. As for E-Star the private Energy Company where Mr. Maximilian Teleki and Mr. Pataki both served as directors, it was restructured and is still in business.

    Also, for the record-George Pataki, began the “ReConnect” program based on the successful – Israeli “Birthright” efforts. The governor has also given numerous speeches on the perils of Communism and the 1956-Hungarian Revolution. He is a big boy – and –a former 3-term governor of NY State and currently a Presidential Candidate. So, he can ignore these assertions or shovel Mr. Lazar’s lazy blogging-bull if he chooses. Good Day!

    • Avatar Charlie London says:

      Ambassador Réka Szemerkényi seems pleased.

    • You accuse George Lazar of being a “lazy blogger” and basically calling his article bullshit. You seem to have an axe to grind with the writer of the article and HFP, however, I do not see anywhere in this article where he states that HAC, Pataki or your cousin Max of being a “pro-Orban right wing diaspora”. Nor does he state anything negative about HAC or your cousin nor Pataki, simply that because of the Hungarian governments actions, some are distancing themselves from admitting their heritage. So I would like to ask you….who is the lazy one? You attack him and make accusations, with nothing to back it up, nothing in the article what so ever! You seem to come accross to me as a “pro-Orban right wing diaspora” to me when you attack out of left field and make an accusation that has nothing to do with the article. This tells me it is not the article particularily you have a problem with, it is perhaps the publication or the writer and the views that may differ from yours. You claim to be criticized for “not defending Orban”, for HAC to be “non-partisan”, but you obviously have done a great job here of defending your political preference and claim to speak on behalf of HAC. So which is it Mr. Teleki? Are you and your organization not expressing partisanship here or are you? Also, I wouldn’t mind seeing where funding for HAC comes from since you are a non-profit organization. You cannot have it both ways sir!

  7. A growing number of people in Germany, Austria, Poland and even Great Britan wish if Viktor Orban was their prime minister.

    He is the one who lives his life for his nation. He and his government lead Hungary to the right direction! Only the postcommunist who lost their dictatoric power – and their clients – opprobiate him telling lies about his intentions and acts. And the Western World which uses the hungarian postcommunists as capos in colonizing Hungary give them support echoing thier absurd, lying mud-slinging by their press. Great big shame on the Western World which calls oneself as home of freedom!

    • Avatar Charlie London says:

      Complete rollocks.

      He’s a complete unknown in the UK.

      You talk complete rubbish on here, ‘Chief Pilot’.

      • I do not think so. Almost everybody in the EU knows prime minister Viktor Orban because of his particular opinions and atcs in the migrant case. Thank for the press! And despite of all rubbish the press writes about him, his popularity is growing – like it or not. Common people are fed up with the “migrants”, have fear of the “migrants” (or rather islamic agressor army).

        • Avatar Miklos Banfi says:

          Time to catapult dude, before you crash with your plan, supporting the heat and brightness of your buddy Sun(s).
          The gallow is ready to vindicate your lunatic leader. Right?
          Never mind! You guys just deserve the silent treatment…

  8. Years from now Hungary’s leader Orban will be vindicated-He is right.

    • So hypothetically, if he turns out to be right? About what? The refugee crisis, and how he thinks they are going to take over Europe? What do you think he will be “vindicated” from? The stealing? The cronyism? Abuse of human rights against Roma? The misappropriation of EU funds? The theft of the pension funds? Being involved with Questor? The corruption? Years from now, at the rate he is going, he either will be in exile or he will be in prison.

  9. Avatar Laszlo Teleki says:

    “Having it both ways…from Left-field…and an Axe to grind? Whatever…!”

    Dear Ms. Aucoin, I can’t stomach a “tit for tat” with you, but HAC is a registered 501c3 and all of their tax documents are in the pubic domain and accessible. I also think it is quite sad that people would distance themselves from their Heritage. If one doesn’t like a particular government, they should speak out and vote. One’s ethnicity and heritage is a part of their DNA. No?
    By the way, most Hungarian Americans are not registered Democrats. Greetings from Jakarta.

    • Avatar Charlie London says:

      Complete ignorance here!

      “If one doesn’t like a particular government, they should speak out and vote….”

      Yes in a democracy. But Orban’s totalitarian ‘commocracy ‘ is nothing of the sort.

      I assume you are aware that Orban has given the vote to Hungarian minorities in surrounding countries, knowing that these ‘trianon’ voters are pro-Orban?

      And that the diaspora were effectively denied a vote because they had to turn up to an embassy. Someone in the north of England had to get to the embassy on or around election day?

      The ‘trianon’ voters had the luxury of a postal vote – unlike the genuine Hungarians abroad.

      Yeah. All you have to do is speak out and vote.

      • Avatar Charlie London says:

        Greetings from London.

        • Avatar Miklos Banfi says:

          Normally I ask (if not others, but myself): Are these people completely brainwashed, ignorant or just happy reapers of some benefit of this dictatorship.. With some, I can narrow it down to 2.
          When quarter of the literate people exited the country in the last 5 years, the left behind is suffocating or/and live in denial, there are not much question to ask anymore…

  10. Avatar Miklos Banfi says:

    Liz, if Mr. Teleki can’t stomach your really civilized and intellectual as always opinion, he must be out of his bully comfort zone.. Don’t despair, you are not alone:)
    Or do I just misunderstand him? So he is saying he is sad about Mr Pataki distancing himself from his heritage??
    His view on democratic voting is answered eloquently by Charlie. Yes, it was just a little bit more democratic than in China…

  11. Orban is right, liked or not.
    European leaders complaining about his every move, than three weeks
    later they do what he’s proposing.
    Liberals will never stop muddying his name, because they can’t help it.
    They are liberals.
    Go Orban!!!!

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