George Tsunis has been confirmed as ambassador to Greece. He...

George Tsunis has been confirmed as ambassador to Greece. He is shown at the Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow on March 15, 2019. Credit: Danielle Silverman

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate confirmed Long Island businessman George J. Tsunis as U.S. Ambassador to the Hellenic Republic in a voice vote late Thursday after Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer put him on the list of nominees being considered.

Tsunis, 54, of Matinecock, who learned Greek as his first language as the son of first-generation Greek immigrants, will be the United States' representative to Greece at what he has called "an all-time high" in the relationships between the two countries.

"I am honored and humbled by the Senate confirmation," Tsunis, a lawyer and the founder, chairman and CEO of Chartwell Hotels LLC, told Newsday on Friday.

Schumer said in a phone interview that he added Tsunis to a list of nominees being approved by unanimous consent following the passage of the $1.6 trillion omnibus spending bill and Ukraine aid.

"I called him at about 8 o’clock and said, ‘It’s getting done tonight.’ He said, ‘Whoa.’ He didn’t know," Schumer said.

Schumer said he recommended Tsunis for the post to President Joe Biden, who tapped Tsunis for the political appointment to the ambassadorial posting in October.

"I pushed hard for him from the beginning because he’s the perfect guy to be ambassador to Greece," Schumer said. "He knows Greek history. He knows the Greek language. And I don’t think anyone in America has better ties to the Greek American community than him."

Tsunis also won bipartisan support after testifying at his nomination hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, including from Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the chairman, and Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho), the ranking member.

Tsunis now holds positions and interests in several businesses, associations and public entities, which he will have to set aside as he heads in the next couple of months to his new diplomatic posting.

Tsunis' ethics agreement with the U.S. government said he would resign from Chartwell Hotels LLC and related entities and real estate limited liability companies, while still receiving passive income from them.

He also agreed to give up his posts as chairman of the Battery Park City Authority; as a director of the New York Convention Center's Operating Committee, which oversees the Javits Center, and from the executive committee of the Hellenic Initiative.

Previously, Tsunis served as chairman of NuHealth, also known as the Nassau Health Care Corp., which operates Nassau University Medical Center, the only public hospital in Nassau County.

He also worked as an aide to former Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, now a New York lobbyist, who appeared at his hearing.

Tsunis also is known for his largesse to charitable causes and to politicians.

This is his second nomination to an ambassadorship.

In 2013, President Barack Obama named him to be U.S. ambassador to Norway, but after he came off as ill-prepared and an ill-fit for the post during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he withdrew from the nomination.

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