Anita Dunn, White House senior adviser and founding partner of public affairs and political consulting firm SKDK, encouraged utilizing its client TikTok to promote President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address in February, according to Politico.
SKDK has several prominent Democratic alumni including some at high levels of the Biden administration, and TikTok hired the company in early 2023, according to Politico. Dunn is prohibited from involvement in matters relating to SKDK under White House ethics policy, but she promoted the client in a conference call titled “Women’s Community Engagement Update” hosted by the White House Office of Public Engagement.
Dunn informed participants on the call that the White House would like people to highlight the administration’s achievements on social media, according to two people who were on the call, Politico reported. She acknowledged that the White House could not use TikTok, but implied that if participants were TikTok users, then they ought to spread portions of the president’s address on the platform. (RELATED: After Taking TikTok Cash, The Washington Post Defended China-Owned App As Its CEO Was Roasted On Capitol Hill)
Dunn’s comments did not conflict with anything the administration had publicly stated “for years: that we work with outside supporters to spread our message on the major social media platforms, including TikTok,” White House spokesperson Andrew Bates told Politico.
Additional former SKDK staff in the Biden administration include White House communications directors Kate Berner and Herbie Ziskend, Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh and Interior Department Press Secretary Tyler Cherry, according to Politico.
ByteDance, TikTok’s Beijing-based parent company, has spent more than $13 million on lobbying since 2019, according to OpenSecrets. Many of those lobbyists have connections to Washington, including former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott and other former members of Congress.
Dunn previously said Chinese dictator Mao Zedong was one of her “favorite political philosophers” during a speech to graduating high schoolers in 2009. She later said this was meant to be ironic.
Dunn, the White House and SKDK did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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