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TikTok’s CEO Hits Capitol Hill


Мар 11, 2023

Today we reveal TikTok making the rounds on Capitol Hill and offer a look inside your correspondent’s notebook.

TikTok CEO Is Quietly Meeting With Lawmakers Ahead Of First-Ever Testimony

“TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is meeting with lawmakers on Capitol Hill ahead of his first-ever testimony before Congress, including several representatives who will be grilling him under oath on March 23,” reports Alexandra S. Levine.

Chew has sought closed-door meetings with at least half a dozen members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee ahead of its hearing on TikTok’s child safety issues, handling of user data and apparent ties to China, according to two senior Democratic staffers. He has met with several, including Reps. Lori Trahan of Massachusetts, Jan Schakowsky of Illinois and Scott Peters of California.

“He’s operating from a place where no one has trust in them, and he fully recognizes that,” Trahan said in an interview with Forbes after her Wednesday meeting with Chew in Washington.

“TikTok is in a really unique position right now to take some positive steps on issues that a lot of top American companies have fallen behind, and frankly even regressed, on—and I made clear to Mr. Chew that I hope to see him move to fulfill that potential,” she added.

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Wes Moore On Being Maryland’s First Black Governor, The Economy & Who He Supports In 2024

Gov. Wes Moore of Maryland (D) sat down with reporter Cat Oriel on “Forbes Newsroom” to discuss his road to becoming Maryland’s first Black governor, the state’s economic growth, his policies around policing and his political future.

Continuing Irresolutions

Updates on Checks & Imbalances’ previous reporting

The campaign of Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) is offering signed copies of his latest book in exchange for donations of $30 or more. It’s a fundraising/book selling tactic that’s common among politicians, but Cotton has added a seemingly new touch of transparency. The ad includes a disclaimer that reads, “Copies of ‘Only The Strong’ are non-royalty copies that do not personally benefit Sen. Tom Cotton, per guidance from counsel and the Senate Ethics Committee.”


In an earnings call on Wednesday, Salem Media Group CEO David Santrella said “Justice Corrupted” by Ted Cruz was the publishing division’s top book of the last three months of 2022. Cruz’s title debuted at No. 9 on the New York Times best-seller list, but the ranking indicated that some book sellers had reported receiving bulk orders. Cruz has a history of using campaign funds to boost his book sales.


Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s memoir remains on the New York Times best-seller list, coming in at No. 13 this week. Pompeo’s PAC spent $42,000 on books the day his hit shelves.


In September 2021, Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.) did not comply with a federal law when he failed to properly disclose more than $6 million of stock trades dating back to January 2017. Now, out of politics after retiring from Congress and running unsuccessfully for governor, Suozzi “has taken a part-time job at Actum LLC, a lobbying, consulting and public relations firm,” Newsday reported last week. (George Santos now holds Suozzi’s seat.)


Serial entrepreneur Richard Kofoed and his wife Stacy donated just $2,000 to candidates for federal office in 2021 and 2022, according to records with the Federal Election Commission. During the 2020 campaign, the couple contributed more than $800,000 to Republicans, money a former business associate claimed Kofoed had embezzled. That lawsuit is still dragging on. A trial was supposed to begin in May, but it was postponed after the business associate amended his complaint in February to add Stacy Kofoed as a defendant.


John Eastman has raised $313,000 for his legal defense on the Christian crowdfunding site GiveSendGo. The California bar is seeking to strip Eastman of his law license over 11 charges stemming from his efforts to overturn the results of the 2022 presidential election.


Disarm the Deep State, a PAC launched by QAnon figure Jim Watkins, missed another FEC filing deadline, as it submitted its February report 10 days after the due date. That marked the third time in recent months that the PAC filed a report after its deadline. Disarm the Deep State disclosed no contributions or disbursements during the reporting period.

‘The Sky’s The Limit’: Ben Cline Discusses Bipartisan Legislation To Help Veterans

Rep. Ben Cline (R-Va.) joined “Forbes Newsroom” to discuss the Veterans Entrepreneurship Act of 2023, bipartisan legislation that aims to help veterans achieve their small business or entrepreneurial goals.

Loose Change

The Congressional Black Caucus PAC’s legal expenses shot up beginning in July 2022, according to filings with the FEC. Since that month, the PAC has spent at least $274,000 on legal services. That’s more than double what it reported spending on legal fees in the previous 13 years.


The FEC fined the campaign of Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-S.D.) $30,000 for failing to properly report $292,000 worth of contributions in the 2022 election, according to a disclosure released in February. The campaign paid the penalty with donor funds in November.


In January, the FEC rejected three complaints against Bloomberg News that alleged its coverage of Michael Bloomberg were prohibited in-kind contributions to his 2020 presidential campaign. The decisions became public this week.


The campaign for Kim Klacik, a Maryland Republican who lost two races for Congress in 2020, agreed to pay a $19,000 fine after the FEC found her committee violated an assortment of campaign-finance laws. Most notably, it knowingly accepted $94,000 in excessive contributions, which it has since refunded.


Ammon Bundy’s gubernatorial campaign in Idaho spent $79,000 advertising on Facebook, making the social-media company the largest recipient of political funds from the right-wing militant, according to state filings.


Freedomworks for America, a conservative super PAC, reported making independent expenditures in the 2022 general election to support two people who did not actually compete in it. The PAC owes the FEC an explanation by Monday.


The PAC for Deloitte, an accounting firm, failed to report $64,000 in contributions, according to a letter the FEC sent the group last week.


On Feb. 28, the House Committee on Ethics held what is likely its only open meeting in this term. The public portion lasted about 2 minutes and 15 seconds. In that time, the panel emerged from executive session, where it deliberates behind closed doors. It then unanimously passed its rules package, which was the same as in the previous Congress, and proceeded to unanimously vote to go back into executive session.


South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem’s (R) PAC accidentally terminated itself.

Tracking Trump

“Former President Donald Trump denied having an affair with adult film star Stormy Daniels and attacked her appearance in a lengthy statement issued through his campaign, hours after reports emerged that he is likely to be criminally charged in connection to a hush money payment made to her during his 2016 presidential campaign,” reports Sara Dorn.


In 2021, the state of New Jersey fined one of Trump’s golf courses $400,000 after it was accused of violating alcoholic-beverage control laws in connection with a fatal car crash, the Asbury Park Press reported at the time.

Trump National Golf Club Colts Neck is up to date with its payments, a spokesperson for New Jersey’s attorney general told Forbes this week. “Per the terms of the consent order, the $400,000 penalty is scheduled to be paid in annual installments of $100,000,” said Lisa Coryell in a statement. “The first two payments were due on October 15 of 2021 and 2022. Trump National Golf Club Colts Neck has complied with the terms of the settlement and made all payments thus far.”


Last Friday, a song by Donald Trump and a group of individuals incarcerated for their alleged involvement in the Jan. 6 riot went live on streaming services. A copy posted to YouTube has been played 320,000 times already.

The music video was released this Friday. It features footage of Trump, flags and the riot at the Capitol, including Ashli Babbit being shot.

Also, this week, “Justice for All” came out on vinyl, according to a new website for the track. The record (“45 on a 45!”), which is on sale for only one week, costs $100 and includes an unspecified bonus recording from Trump on side B. Plans to sell T-shirts around the song also are in the works.


Trump is considering defeated Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake as a potential running mate in 2024, Axios reported on Tuesday. Lake’s campaign spent $111,000 at Trump properties, and she continues to be a featured guest at events at Mar-a-Lago.


“Attorney Jenna Ellis was publicly censured Wednesday for violating lawyers’ code of conduct by making false ‘misrepresentations’ about the 2020 election when she helped former President Donald Trump try to overturn the vote count,” reports Alison Durkee. Ellis is one of at least eight former Trump attorneys facing consequences for their work on his behalf.


Former Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubakar finished second in that country’s presidential election, with 29% of the vote. In 2019, when he also ran unsuccessfully for the job, Abubakar made a high-profile visit to Trump’s D.C. hotel just a month before election day. Abubakar, who reportedly had been banned from the United States as a result of his role in a Congressional ethics scandal a decade earlier, acknowledged that he stayed at the hotel to demonstrate that he could get close to the U.S. president.


Roger Stone, who received a pardon from Trump after witness tampering and lying to Congress, spent some time recently with the former president at Mar-a-Lago.


Rep. Cory Mills (R-Fla.) was one of the latest visitors to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago office.


Big Dog Ranch Rescue returned to Mar-a-Lago last weekend for its annual Wine, Women and Shoes fundraiser. Trump spoke to attendees. In 2021, the event raised $670,000 with expenses of $580,000, according to the nonprofit’s tax filing, which did not break down how much Mar-a-Lago received.

Across Forbes

In Closing

“Pulling your strings, justice is done

Seeking no truth, winning is all

Find it so grim, so true, so real”

—Metallica, “…And Justice For All”

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