White House visitor records show that lobbyists and executives for the Chinese-owned social media platform TikTok have visited the Biden White House at least 40 times in the past year.
According to the Washington Free Beacon, the plethora of visits is part of the tech company’s broader plan for a massive public relations campaign aimed at rehabilitating its image, amid numerous setbacks including government bans on the app in various states and other countries. TikTok and its parent company ByteDance have already spent over $13 million on federal lobbying since 2019, having hired lobbying firms such as SKDK, a major Democratic public relations firm.
One such lobbyist is John Breaux, a former U.S. Senator from Louisiana and a Democrat who currently serves at the lobbying firm Crossroads Strategies. Breaux visited the White House at least three times in 2022, with his most recent visit being on December 21st. One of Breaux’s coworkers is Stephanie Leger Short, another TikTok lobbyist who visited the White House on June 23rd to meet with Mitch Landrieu, the former Mayor of New Orleans who currently serves as an adviser in the Biden Administration.
Numerous other guests to the White House on TikTok’s behalf include former New York Congressman Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.), former Biden campaign spokesman Jamal Brown, and former Tennessee Congressman Barton Gordon (D-Tenn.).
In recent months, numerous Republican-led states as well as several European countries have passed bills to ban the use of TikTok on any government device, citing the fact that ByteDance is a Chinese company with direct ties to the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Even some Democrats have agreed with bans or restrictions on TikTok, citing security and privacy concerns with regards to individual users’ data.
The Biden Administration has flip-flopped on the question of TikTok, claiming to be supportive of efforts to crack down on the Chinese-owned app, while many Democrats have voiced their support for the app due to its popularity with the youngest current generation, Generation Z. Elected officials such as Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) have even joined the app for campaign purposes, while Biden’s Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo (D-R.I.) openly claimed that Democrats would “lose every voter under 35, forever,” in the event that TikTok was banned.
“If administration officials appear highly susceptible to TikTok’s lobbying efforts, it’s probably because they’re highly dependent on the app for political reasons,” said the American Foreign Policy Council’s Michael Sobolik. “The Biden administration claims to be serious about TikTok, but the facts suggest otherwise. Democratic operatives are already planning to push Biden’s reelection agenda on the Chinese-controlled app.”