Former Louisiana Senator John Breaux Part of the Fight to Keep TikTok Alive
WASHINGTON, D.C. (KPEL News) - The popular social video app TikTok has been under threat of a federal ban for several years as stories of its data-mining efforts and efforts to keep young teens engaged have politicians around the country worried.
Several states, including Louisiana, have already taken measures to ban the app from government-issued devices. TikTok itself, in an effort to show they are trying to fix some of their problems, recently announced new screentime policies for account holders under 18 years old.
But ByteDance, TikTok's parent company, is launching a full-scale counterattack in an effort to lobby politicians into voting against a ban being presented in Congress.
Since 2019, ByteDance has paid more than $13 million in lobbying efforts to keep the U.S. government from banning the app. Several former politicians who have served in Washington D.C. are now lobbyists for the Chinese company.
Included in that list of lobbyists is former U.S. Senator John Breaux of Louisiana.
According to OpenSecrets.org, Breaux has 34 clients through the lobbying firm Crossroads Strategies. ByteDance is just one of those firms, but they are under the heaviest scrutiny at the moment.
Breaux served as U.S. Senator for 18 years. Prior to that, he spent about 14 years in the House of Representatives.
Along with Breaux and other former politicians working for various lobbying firms, ByteDance has also contracted the firm SKDK, which has ties to President Joe Biden's administration.
TikTok, the wildly popular Chinese-owned social media app, has hired top Biden-connected consulting firm SKDK as it faces increasing scrutiny in Washington, according to two people, including one with direct knowledge of the hire.
The public affairs and political consulting firm is providing communications support to the company, which has come under government scrutiny, with senators recently introducing a bipartisan bill empowering Biden to restrict or potentially ban the service.
SKDK is seen as the most well-connected Democratic firm in Washington with former top employees in senior and mid-level roles in the Biden administration. Anita Dunn, a founding partner, returned to the White House last May where she is senior adviser after a stint in the early part of the Biden administration and work on the 2020 campaign. Other former SKDK employees in the Biden administration include deputy White House communications directors Kate Berner and Herbie Ziskend, deputy Pentagon press secretary Sabrina Singh and Interior Department press secretary Tyler Cherry.
Though it has ties to the Biden administration, the President himself has come out in favor of the most recent effort to block TikTok in America.
That effort, a bill originating in the U.S. Senate, "would give the federal government new powers to restrict, and potentially ban, technologies from China and other nations designated as U.S. adversaries," POLITICO explains, "although such an action would face howls from advocates of free speech."