Thursday, March 28, 2024

House Democrats Who Voted Against Anti-TikTok Bill Took Cash From Its Lobbying Army; Jim Clyburn-Tied Charity Scored Cash From TikTok’s Chinese Parent Company Before Key Vote

AP Photo/Meg Kinnard
House Democrats who voted against anti-TikTok bill took cash from its lobbying army:
TikTok lobbyists sprinkled cash into the campaign coffers for some House Democrats who later voted against a bill that could lead to the popular social media app being banned in the United States, records show.
In March, Reps. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), Greg Casar (D-TX), and Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) opposed the bipartisan Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, which passed the House and would require the company ByteDance to sell off TikTok within six months or see its app face a ban. The three members accepted campaign donations in recent years from TikTok's lobbying army in the U.S., with Bowman notably racking up hundreds of thousands of followers on the app.
That Clyburn, Casar, and Bowman have been boosted by the lobbyists is a window into TikTok's sprawling efforts to gain influence and allies in Washington, D.C., among lawmakers, most of whom have increasingly soured on the app over national security concerns stemming from its China ties. TikTok admitted in 2022 that ByteDance, of which China's government in 2019 took a 1% stake, spied on American journalists. Chinese businesses are required under the country's "national intelligence law" to "support, assist, and cooperate with the state intelligence work," and former ByteDance employees have said the company feeds information to the Chinese Communist Party.
President Joe Biden supports the anti-TikTok proposal, though it faces an unclear future in the Senate. Armed with funding from TikTok itself, some organizations are calling on lawmakers to block the bill over concerns about censorship and setting a precedent for foreign governments to target U.S. apps, the Washington Examiner reported.
Clyburn and his leadership political action committee have received at least $14,400 from Michael Hacker, Kim Lipsky, and Michael Bloom, who work for TikTok and are registered to lobby for ByteDance, according to Senate filings. The South Carolina Democrat also received roughly $3,200 combined in checks in 2022 and 2023 from TikTok lobbyist Ben McMakin at Crossroads Strategies and lobbyists at Mehlman Consulting, which first registered on behalf of TikTok in 2020. --->READ MORE HERE
AP Photo/Artie Walker Jr.
Jim Clyburn-tied charity scored cash from TikTok’s Chinese parent company before key vote:
A foundation tied to Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) accepted checks from China’s ByteDance before he voted against a bill that would make the company divest from the popular social media app TikTok, records show.
The veteran House Democrat in March diverged from his ally President Joe Biden, who supports anti-TikTok legislation, in opposing the bipartisan Protecting Americans from Foreign Adversary Controlled Applications Act, which may lead to TikTok being banned in the United States over national security concerns from lawmakers. Clyburn, who has personally received campaign donations from TikTok’s lobbying army, saw at least $40,000 in recent years flood into a nonprofit organization affiliated with him from ByteDance, according to congressional lobbying disclosures.
“We can’t say for a fact that his position is due to the money, but it’s perfectly reasonable to be concerned about financial incentives leading to political incentives,” said Ryan Mauro, a national security analyst and investigative researcher for the conservative Capital Research Center think tank. “Generally, it’s concerning how politicians often take positions they otherwise might not at the expense of the country they’re supposed to represent.”
The grants from ByteDance, of which China’s government in 2019 took a 1% stake and which has spied on American journalists, underscores the company’s sprawling influence as it stares down what could be the end of its ownership of TikTok. The anti-TikTok bill is bipartisan and faces an uncertain future in the Senate — though Biden has said he would sign the bill into law if it clears the upper chamber.
TikTok spokeswoman Jodi Seth declined to say if there’s any broader relationship between ByteDance and Clyburn’s office. “This was a donation to a 501(c)(3) organization that provides need-based scholarships to students hoping to go to college,” Seth, who used to be a top aide to Massachusetts’s then-Sen. John Kerry, a Democrat, until 2013, told the Washington Examiner. --->READ MORE HERE
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