TikTok spent more than $1 million on lobbying in summer 2022 – Washington Examiner

TikTok and its Chinese parent company combined to spend more than $1 million during the third quarter of 2022 on lobbying as Republicans push the Biden administration to crack down on TikTok over data privacy and national security concerns.
ByteDance, the Beijing-based company that owns TikTok and has links to the Chinese government, spent $1 million on lobbying from July to September, and TikTok itself reported spending another $110,000 in the third quarter of 2022 through the Crossroad Strategies advocacy firm.
TikTok has put together a large lobbying team made up of onetime lawmakers and former congressional staffers from both parties to try to shield the company. ByteDance and TikTok had spent a record $2.37 million on lobbying this spring, the most the Chinese social media app ever reported spending in a single quarter.
The parent company spent $2.26 million on lobbying from April to June, and TikTok itself reported spending another $110,000 that quarter through Crossroad Strategies.
The only other time frame that came close to the 2022 second-quarter figures was the $2.07 million ByteDance and TikTok spent between April and June 2021. ByteDance spent $1.1 million in the first quarter of this year, with another $110,000 from TikTok directly.
This year, ByteDance reported also funneling tens of thousands of dollars to LGL Advisors in Florida, the Washington lobbying firm Mehlman Castagnetti Rosen & Thomas, and the K&L Gates LLP global law firm for lobbying purposes.
ByteDance and TikTok spent a combined $550,000 on lobbying in 2019, $3.92 million in 2020, $6.54 million in 2021, and $4.69 million so far this year — putting 2022 on track to be the highest level of spending on lobbying yet by the Chinese company.
“It is time to drop the hammer on this hammer and sickle operation,” Brendan Carr, the top Republican on the Federal Communications Commission, told the Washington Examiner. “TikTok cannot spend lobbying money fast enough to cover up for the deluge of reports coming out that expose TikTok for the national security threat that it is. The Biden Administration needs to end its review and ban TikTok now.”
ByteDance reported spending $930,000 itself from January to March, with specific lobbying issues including the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, the America Competes Act, and the National Defense Authorization Act — all of which contained provisions aimed at helping the United States compete against China.
The company then spent more than $2 million over the next three months, lobbying on those proposed laws yet again while targeting Congress, the White House, and federal agencies, and spent another $880,000 on the same issues again in the third quarter.
The Senate, the House, the Executive Office of the President, the FCC, and the Commerce, State, Treasury, and Defense departments were all targets of the lobbying this year.
The Chinese parent company paid LGL Advisors $50,000 in the first quarter, Mehlman $80,000 in the first quarter to lobby the House and the Senate on USICA, and K&L $40,000 in the first quarter to lobby Congress on USICA and the NDAA. Mehlman and K&L received the same amounts in the second quarter and in the third quarter to continue lobbying on those issues. LGL said it spent less than $5,000 and didn’t do any lobbying in the third quarter.
TikTok itself spent $110,000 in the first quarter of 2022 and the same amount again in both the second quarter and the third quarter of this year to lobby on “issues related to internet technology and learning-enabled content platforms.” The company targeted the Senate, House, and the White House.
TikTok has thrived during the two years of President Joe Biden’s presidency after unsuccessful efforts by President Donald Trump’s administration to crack down on the app.
Biden officials emphasize a national security review of the app is underway. The National Security Council said this summer that a separate review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States “is ongoing.”
The Trump administration labeled TikTok a national security threat due to concerns that it could be exploited by the Chinese Communist Party to obtain U.S. user data illicitly.
TikTok’s lobbying shop includes nearly three dozen former congressional staffers almost evenly split between the parties, including those who worked for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
Michael Bloom, a TikTok public policy specialist since July 2020, worked for Pelosi from 2005 to 2017, including as senior adviser.
Freddy Barnes, a public policy representative for TikTok since 2020, was McCarthy’s political director from 2013 to 2018 and his strategic adviser in 2019.


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