ByteDance, TikTok shelled out $7 million on lobbying and ads to combat potential U.S. ban

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TikTok and its China-based parent company ByteDance combined to spend over $7 million so far this year to try and stop Congress from passing legislation that could ban the social media app in the United States.

ByteDance alone spent a record $2.68 million on in-house TikTok lobbyists to target Congress and federal officials over the first three months of the year, according to new lobbying disclosure reports. TikTok spent over $4.5 million this year on a television and digital ad campaign pushing back on legislation that could ban the app, according to data from AdImpact.

“This expenditure reflects work we do to educate policymakers about how legislation could affect our community of 170 million American users,” a TikTok spokesperson said about the spend.

The disclosures show how TikTok officials lobbied Congress and President Joe Biden’s executive office last quarter. The Executive Office of the President features the National Security Council, the Office of Management and Budget and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, among other divisions.

The House passed its latest TikTok-tied legislation on Saturday, which, if signed into law, would give ByteDance about nine months to divest the social media app or it’s banned in the U.S.

The Senate is set to vote on the latest TikTok bill on Tuesday. The Senate first passed a procedural vote on a foreign aid package that contains the new TikTok legislation. The successful vote is a sign that the package could be on the brink of final approval.

The House passed a similar bill in March that would have given ByteDance roughly six months to divest the TikTok asset, but that legislation has since stalled in the Senate.

The recent spending on in-house lobbying doesn’t take into account other payments made to external consultants. Veteran lobbyist David Urban was paid $80,000 last quarter by ByteDance to try to influence Congress on their March bill targeting the technology company, according to a disclosure report.

It marks the most Urban’s firm, LGL Advisors, has been paid by ByteDance in a given quarter, according to federal lobbying data.

Urban did not return a request for comment. A White House spokesperson did not return an email seeking comment.

TikTok has spent over $400,000 since Jan. 1 on outside lobbying firms in Washington.

The most ByteDance previously spent on lobbying in the first quarter was in 2023 for over $1.8 million, according to data from OpenSecrets. ByteDance and TikTok spent over $8 million on lobbying in 2023.

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