Documents filed with Congress this week show the company tapped for-hire lobbyist Ankit Desai, who previously served in Biden’s office during his time as a senator in 2005.
The hire comes after the company also recruited Jamal Brown, former national press secretary for the president’s 2020 campaign, and contracted with a consulting firm with close Biden ties.
TikTok, along with Beijing-based owner ByteDance, was found to have put $5.4 million toward lobbying in 2022, as lawmakers on both sides have expressed concerns over potential national security risks.
At a congressional hearing on Thursday, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew said the company takes national security concerns “very seriously.” He also sought to dispel what he described as “misconceptions” about ByteDance, which he noted is “not owned or controlled by the Chinese government,” while discussing some of the steps the company has taken to address the concerns with “real action.”
“That’s what we’ve been doing for the last two years, building what amounts to a firewall that seals off protected U.S. user data from unauthorized foreign access,” he said. “The bottom line is this: American data stored on American soil by an American company overseen by American personnel.”
TikTok has enlisted the help of dozens of lobbyists amid the push, with former lawmakers and aides to top leaders on Capitol Hill among the ranks as it works to make its case to Washington.
Karl Evers-Hillstrom has more here.