TikTok Hires Biden-Connected Consulting Firm as Federal Ban Looms
Photo Credit: Solen Feyissa
TikTok has hired top Biden-connected consulting firm SKDK while it continues facing scrutiny in Washington, Politico reports. The public affairs and political consulting firm is providing communications support to the company as it faces continued fire from the government. Senators recently introduced a bipartisan bill to empower the president to restrict or ban the Chinese-owned service altogether.
The U.S. government has been building a fire beneath TikTok for years since the Trump administration tried to ban the app. This has continued with the Biden administration’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. conducting a national security review of TikTok.
SKDK is viewed 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 in May last year.
She serves as a senior adviser following her work in the early part of the Biden administration and during Biden’s 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.
While SKDK has continued to thrive in the Biden era, it has also faced additional scrutiny for its choice of clients, parting ways with Starbucks last year as the coffee giant tried to ward off a union-organizing effort. The firm has also worked with Amazon at least as recently as 2021.
The bill introduced by a bipartisan group of senators that could affect TikTok has seen support from the White House. The proposed legislation would give the federal government new powers to restrict and potentially ban technologies from China and other nations designated as U.S. adversaries. TikTok-owner ByteDance is continually cited as one of the biggest concerns, with worries that the Chinese government could utilize data harvested from its millions of American users.
ByteDance has spent more than $13 million on lobbying since 2019 to try to mitigate federal government action against TikTok, having hired several dozen lobbyists, including former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) and John Breaux Sr. (R-LA), who work for Crossroads Strategies, and former Reps. Jeff Denham (R-CA) and Bart Gordon (D-TN), currently working for K&L Gates.