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Feds Investigate ByteDance, AOC Is Hiring


Мар 17, 2023

Today we look at an investigation into ByteDance, a job opening with the Ocasio-Cortez campaign and tech leaders’ efforts to get a bailout for Silicon Valley Bank.

The FBI And DOJ Are Investigating ByteDance’s Use Of TikTok To Spy On Journalists

“The FBI and the Department of Justice are investigating the events that led TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, to use the app to surveil American journalists, including this reporter, according to sources familiar with the departments’ actions,” reports Emily Baker-White:

According to a source in position to know, the DOJ Criminal Division, Fraud Section, working alongside the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, has subpoenaed information from ByteDance regarding efforts by its employees to access U.S. journalists’ location information or other private user data using the TikTok app. According to two sources, the FBI has been conducting interviews related to the surveillance. ByteDance’s use of the app to surveil U.S. citizens was first reported by Forbes in October, and confirmed by an internal company investigation in December.

«We have strongly condemned the actions of the individuals found to have been involved, and they are no longer employed at ByteDance. Our internal investigation is still ongoing, and we will cooperate with any official investigations when brought to us,” said ByteDance spokesperson Jennifer Banks. TikTok did not respond to a request for comment.

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Sens. Blackburn and Blumenthal Join Forbes To Discuss Bill To Keep Kids Safe Online

Sens. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) join Brittany Lewis in “Forbes Newsroom” to discuss their bipartisan legislation, the Kids Online Safety Act.

50 Tech Leaders Circulated A Private Memo In Washington Calling For Action On SVB

“As SVB careened towards catastrophe, some 50 founders, VCs, economists and comms experts gathered in a WhatsApp group to draft a memo calling for urgent preservation of its deposits for the sake of the broader economy. Then they sent it to Washington,” reports Alex Konrad.

Just after 5:30 pm Pacific on Saturday, a memo started making the rounds among policymaker staff. Called “United States Cascade Bank Failure Scenario,” the private document laid out the case for why the U.S. government needed to take “decisive action” to avoid a continued bank run in the wake of the abrupt closure of Silicon Valley Bank.

“Today, most Americans assume the SVB failure is contained to the tech economy, but this is not true,” the document said, before laying out a primer on how SVB collapsed and the dire consequences for inaction — insolvency for regional banks, massive job cuts and the loss of banking services for wide swaths of the country, far from Silicon Valley. “The risks to the U.S. economy could be sudden, severe, and extensive,” it warned.

Whereas some prominent voices in tech took to Twitter for all-caps concern tweets, the memo was unsigned, but it was authored by a coterie of almost 50 leaders within and beyond the tech ecosystem. From Thursday through the weekend, they crowd-sourced information and coordinated ad hoc outreach to staffers in the California governor’s office, the White House, and to lawmakers like Ro Khanna, Katie Porter, Elizabeth Warren and JD Vance.

‘We Are Up Against A Fiscal Cliff’: Rep. Josh Brecheen Talks Budget And Economic Plans With Forbes

Rep. Josh Brecheen (R-Okla.) joins “Forbes Newsroom” to discuss his first term in Congress, the budget and debt ceiling negotiations and his top policy areas.

AOC Searching For New Campaign Manager After Previous One Blamed For Met Gala Fiasco

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is looking for a new campaign manager after her previous one was blamed for dropping the ball on payments related to her Met Gala appearance. That lapse led the House ethics office to find “substantial reason to believe” the congresswoman violated ethics laws by “accept[ing] impermissible gifts.”

In September 2021, the New York Democrat attended the Met Gala, famously wearing a white dress with “Tax the Rich” scrawled across the backside. That appearance led the nonpartisan Office of Congressional Ethics to launch an investigation. Its inquiry discovered that Ocasio-Cortez did not pay for her dress, hair styling, makeup and other services until after the investigation was launched, five months after the gala.

Ocasio-Cortez told investigators she planned to personally pay for those services and had authorized her campaign manager to coordinate payments with the vendors, according to a transcript of her interview. “I continued to follow up on this thing because it was stressing me out, and I genuinely do not know what had happened,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “I had continued to get this kind of holding pattern response [from her campaign manager].”

“I just never, ever, ever would have allowed that to happen knowing what I have learned, but that I wasn’t privy to the invoices,” the congresswoman said.

The campaign manager, who was still employed by Ocasio-Cortez at the time of her interview in May 2022, provided investigators with a similar account. The campaign manager said she didn’t pay for the dress as she didn’t think the invoice was final. She didn’t pay for the hairstylist until after it threatened to file a complaint with New York City’s Office of Labor Policy and Standards for Workers because the bill “fell off my radar,” and she didn’t have access to the congresswoman’s personal credit card. Overall, the campaign manager said, “other things kind of took precedence.”

The campaign manager’s name is not included in the transcripts, but other exhibits included in the investigation’s report identify her as Rebecca Rodriguez.

“The staffer is no longer with the campaign,” said Communications Director Lauren Hitt in a statement, declining to explain if the ethics investigation led to the split. Forbes was unable to reach Rodriguez for comment.

Ocasio-Cortez began looking for a new campaign manager on or before Feb. 7, according to the first date Google indexed the posting. Responsibilities for the position, which pays $120,000 to $165,000 a year, include “partnering with the candidate to design and oversee the campaign strategy, set and execute priorities, and manage a skilled team of staff, advisors, consultants, and volunteers in a community-focused, unconventional year-round campaign operation.”

Overseeing compliance is another responsibility. The ad does not mention that duty may include ensuring Ocasio-Cortez’s hairstylist receives prompt payments.

Tracking Trump

A musical collaboration between Donald Trump and a choir of individuals incarcerated for their alleged involvement in the Jan. 6 riot sold 22,500 digital downloads in the 11 days after its release, according to a music analytics firm.

“Justice for All” by Trump and the J6 Prison Choir debuted on March 3. The track interpolates the former president reciting the Pledge of Allegiance into “The Star-Spangled Banner,” sung by inmates housed at the Washington, D.C. jail. Trump is personally involved in the project.

By the following Friday, the track reached the top spot on the iTunes Store, which measures how many times a song was purchased. Through that day, the song had sold 4,800 digital downloads across iTunes and other retailers, according to the tracking service Luminate (formerly known as Nielsen). The track has remained on the top spot with digital downloads totaling 22,500 through Monday. “That strikes me as a substantial amount of downloads,” said an executive in the music-technology business not associated with the release, who asked not to be named given the contentious nature of the song.

The music executive noted that consumers have moved away from downloading songs, opting instead to stream them. “Justice for All” was streamed on-demand 600,000 times across audio and video between March 3 and March 13, according to Luminate. “That’s not a ton,” said the music executive. “You often see a song that really takes off get millions and millions of streams in the first few days. That’s less impressive than the downloads.” That play count was not enough for “Justice for All” to land on Apple Music or Spotify’s streaming charts.

The song also has not reached Billboard’s charts. But Erica Knight, a spokesperson for Kash Patel, a former Trump administration staffer who is involved with the recording, said she expects to see the song on multiple charts when they are released next week.

Sales of a $100 vinyl version are “significant,” Knight claimed, declining to provide actual sales figure.

“Justice for All” costs $1.29 on the iTunes Store. Profits are slated to benefit the families of people imprisoned for their alleged roles in the Capitol riot.

Watch: Your correspondent joined Brittany Lewis on “Forbes Newsroom” to discuss Trump and the prisoner’s track.


Gilson Machado Guimarães Neto, Brazil’s former Minister of Tourism under Jair Bolsonaro, met with Trump at Mar-a-Lago.


Rep. Mark Alford (R-Mo.) “had the opportunity of a lifetime” on Tuesday when an unnamed group ostensibly rented out Mar-a-Lago to raise money for Republicans running for Congress.

Across Forbes

In Closing

Private eyes

They’re watching you

They see your every move

— Daryl Hall & John Oates, “Private Eyes”

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