TikTok investors linked with Democratic politicians, as Biden moves to keep company in U.S: Report

Stakeholders have in the past cut huge checks to Democratic efforts.
TikTok's London offices, February 2022

Investors in the China-based social media company TikTok have been linked to Democratic politicians and their campaigns, as the Biden administration prepares to move forward on a deal to allow the company to continue operating on in the U.S., according to media reports. 

TikTok has long raised concerns of being a security threat due to its links to the Chinese Communist Party.

Then-President Donald Trump said in August of 2020 that his administration would ban the app from the U.S. due to security concerns, including owner ByteDance collecting data from American users.

Month of wrangling followed Trump's declaration, with TikTok scrambling to try to appease U.S. intelligence concerns regarding its security measures and data collection practices.

A series of court orders, meanwhile, prohibited the Trump administration from enforcing the ban; it was ultimately rescinded by President Joe Biden in mid-2021. 

The Biden administration is currently working on a security deal with TikTok to ensure its continued operation in the U.S. Yet those tense negotiations are occurring as big-budget investors in TikTok have also been revealed to be investors in, and close allies with, Democratic officials in Washington

The Daily Mail reported on Tuesday that "American companies invested in TikTok have been courting and donating millions of dollars to Democrats" ahead of that security deal.  

Among them is Sequoia Capital, the Chinese arm of which "reportedly owns around 10% of ByteDance" and which has "donated over $8million to the Democrats since 2020," the Mail reported. 

Among other links to Democratic politicians is the Carlyle Group, which the Mail said owns $150 million of ByteDance and whose co-founder, David Rubenstein, "is a close ally of President Biden," up to and including hosting the Bidens at his house in Nantucket, Massachusetts.

Lobbying disclosures have show "ByteDance hired Senate Democrat leader Chuck Schumer’s former aide to lobby for them this year."

The paper quoted one anonymous insider as claiming that the Chinese Communist Party "is very good at ensuring that the right influential US investors have a vested interest in Chinese companies like TikTok so that those investors can do their bidding in Washington."

In a statement to the Mail, Missouri GOP Sen. Josh Hawley urged investigators to "follow the money."

"ByteDance hires top Democrat staffers as lobbyists and their corporate allies donate millions to Democrats," he argued. "This is the same company that won’t even commit to stop sending American data overseas to the CCP. The Democrats’ cronyism is putting the American people at risk."