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GOP Rep. Gallagher blasts TikTok's 'army of lobbyists' but takes their campaign donations

Wisconsin Republican Mike Gallagher is co-sponsor of a bill that would ban the social media platform in the United States.

By Josh Israel - January 12, 2023
Mike Gallagher
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 22: Rep. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., is seen during a house vote in the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, September 22, 2021. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Wisconsin Republican Rep. Mike Gallagher is leading the charge for a ban on the social media platform TikTok, citing concerns that it is addictive and claiming that it is controlled by the Chinese Communist Party. Meanwhile, Gallagher has taken thousands of dollars in campaign cash from lobbyists who represent TikTok’s parent company.

The fourth-term lawmaker introduced the Averting the National Threat of Internet Surveillance, Oppressive Censorship and Influence, and Algorithmic Learning by the Chinese Communist Party Act, also called the ANTI-SOCIAL CCP Act, on Dec. 13, with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL), to ban TikTok entirely from the United States.

In a statement announcing the bill, Gallagher said:

TikTok is digital fentanyl that’s addicting Americans, collecting troves of their data, and censoring their news. It’s also an increasingly powerful media company that’s owned by ByteDance, which ultimately reports to the Chinese Communist Party – America’s foremost adversary. Allowing the app to continue to operate in the U.S. would be like allowing the U.S.S.R. to buy up the New York Times, Washington Post, and major broadcast networks during the Cold War. No country with even a passing interest in its own security would allow this to happen, which is why it’s time to ban TikTok and any other CCP-controlled app before it’s too late.

“It’s highly addictive, highly destructive,” he told CNN on Dec. 18, according to Politico.

On Nov. 27, he told Fox News: “TikTok is digital fentanyl, addicting our kids, and just like actual fentanyl, it ultimately goes back to the Chinese Communist Party. … Oh, and oh, by the way, TikTok is using the swamp against us. They’re hiring an army of lobbyists, including former congressmen, senators, 31 former high-level congressional staffers, in order to do their bidding. No paycheck is worth that. Okay? We need to ban TikTok.”

While TIkTok and ByteDance, its parent company, have spent more than $1 million on lobbying the U.S. government, Gallagher did not mention that he has taken campaign contributions from that “army of lobbyists.”

According to lobbying disclosure records, at least $480,000 of ByteDance’s lobbying money has gone to the multinational law firm K&L Gates, which has represented it since October 2019.

Gallagher has accepted $3,500 from the K&L Gates LLP corporate PAC since that time, including a pair of $1,000 donations as recently as May and September 2022.

He also received $750 from K&L Gates government affairs counselor James Sartucci, a former legislative director for Republican Sen. Trent Lott of Mississippi, who lobbied for ByteDance on “Issues related to internet companies” in 2020, according to the disclosure records.

Neither K&L Gates, Sartucci, nor Gallagher immediately responded to requests for comment for this story.

On Monday, Gallagher scolded ESPN for allowing TikTok to sponsor its college football halftime shows. In a joint letter with Krishnamoorthi, he said that the sports network’s decision to do so “raises serious questions about ESPN corporate decision-making and the risk analysis it conducts when soliciting sponsorships.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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