A recent report may explain why there hasn't been much action against TikTok - which collects its users' browsing data and keystrokes - at the federal level.
According to the Washington Free Beacon, TikTok lobbyists visited the Biden White House at least 40 times over the past year, according to official White House visitor records.
The Chinese social media platform and its parent company, ByteDance, are mounting a massive public relations blitz as lawmakers are seeking to ban the app due to national security, espionage, and data privacy concerns. ByteDance and TikTok have spent $13 million on federal lobbying since 2019 and hired heavyweight firms such as influential Democratic public relations shop SKDK.
Those hired guns have had the ear of the White House, the records show. Former Louisiana Democratic senator John Breaux, a TikTok lobbyist at Crossroads Strategies, visited the White House at least three times last year, most recently for an event on Dec. 21. Stephanie Leger Short, another TikTok lobbyist who works with Breaux, attended a June 23 meeting with White House adviser Mitch Landrieu. Breaux also met with White House official John Podesta last November. -Free Beacon
Other TikTok lobbyists include former Congressman Barton Gordon (D-TN), who attended two White House events (Dec. 1 and last September), and ByteDance lobbyist Lauren Aronson, who visited twice in September.
Meanwhile, ex-congressman Joseph Crowley (D-NY) is listed at least four times in the 2022 visitor logs - meeting with presidential special assistant John McCarthy in August and White House adviser Mariana Adame in September. Crowley notably helped arrange meetings for TikTok on Capitol Hill last month.
Former Biden campaign spokesman Jamal Brown, another revolving door lobbyist hired by TikTok in November, visited the White House numerous times in June, August and December, while Paul Thornell - another ByteDance lobbyist, visited at least three times last year.
"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 Michael Sobolik, a China expert at the American Foreign Policy Council. "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," Sobolik added.