TikTok Hires Former Biden Staffer To Bolster Lobbying Team

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James Lynch Contributor
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TikTok hired former Biden Senate staffer and veteran D.C. lobbyist Ankit Desai in January, a new disclosure form shows.

Desai is the president of AND Partners LLC and a managing member of ABI Associates LLC. He was a staffer for then-Senator Joe Biden in 2005 and describes himself as a “Joe Biden Democrat” on Twitter. He previously worked as a lobbyist for natural gas company Cheniere Energy and other corporate clients. (RELATED: TikTok CEO Refuses To Say Communist China Has ‘Persecuted’ Uyghurs)

Desai’s hire reflects TikTok’s effort to bolster its lobbying operation in response to bipartisan scrutiny of its ties to China. The company also recently hired SKDK, a well-connected consulting firm founded by Biden adviser and former Obama adviser Anita Dunn, Politico reported.

TikTok’s China-based parent company ByteDance spent $5.3 million on lobbying expenditures in 2022, according to non-partisan watchdog OpenSecrets. The firm’s lobbyists include former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and former Democratic Louisiana Sen. John Breaux, disclosures show.

ByteDance’s lobbying operation is led by TikTok executive Michael Beckerman, the firm disclosed. Former staffers for Democratic South Carolina Rep. Jim Clyburn and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy are listed among the firm’s lobbyists.

Democratic New York Rep. Jamaal Bowman, a progressive member of “The Squad,” emerged as TikTok’s strongest ally after a bipartisan chorus of lawmakers tore into TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew at a hearing on Thursday. (RELATED: TikTok CEO Spends Hearing On The Ropes In Bipartisan Beatdown)

During the hearing, lawmakers scrutinized TikTok’s relationship with the Chinese government and its alleged surveillance of American users. Chew was brought to testify following the Biden administration’s demand TikTok either be sold from ByteDance or face a ban.

The FBI and Department of Justice are investigating allegations that China-based ByteDance employees monitored American citizens.