After Banning TikTok, Youngkin Takes Their Investor’s Money

Youngkin addresses Virginia House (AP Photo/John C. Clark)

By Carolyn Fiddler

October 5, 2023

After banning TikTok on state devices last year, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin has accepted a $2 million contribution to his political action committee from a donor with a $21 billion dollar stake in the Chinese-owned app.

As part of a series of political maneuvers against Chinese-owned companies, Youngkin issued an executive order last December banning TikTok and WeChat from being installed or used on state-owned phones or other electronic devices, calling the apps “a channel to the Chinese Communist Party.”

The $2 million donation to Youngkin’s Spirit of Virginia PAC, which has emerged as the top donor to both the Republican Party of Virginia and to the House Republican Campaign Committee this year, was made by Jeff Yass. Yass is a billionaire financier who co-founded Susquehanna International Group, a Pennsylvania-based investment company whose stake in TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, represents about 15% of the firm. His personal $21 billion stake is 7% of ByteDance.

Before running for governor, Youngkin was co-CEO of the Carlyle Group, a private equity fund, and made millions of dollars off of deals with Chinese companies. In a 2019 interview, Youngkin declared, “We are long-term bullish on China.”

Earlier this year, Youngkin also pushed for the commonwealth to ban foreign entities with Chinese Communist Party ties from buying Virginia farmland. He also blocked the construction of a battery plant that would have brought 2,500 jobs to an area of the state desperately in need of an economic boost. Youngking claimed that the plant – a partnership between Ford plant and a Chinese manufacturer – “would serve as a front for the Chinese Communist Party.” Workers at the plant would have been Ford employees. The plant and its 2,500 jobs went to Michigan instead.

Instead of responding directly when asked why Youngkin accepted the donation after his opposition to Chinese-linked investments in Virginia, the GOP operative who heads the Spirit of Virginia PAC said the governor is “incredibly grateful for all of the support from people across Virginia and the country.”

Florida megadonor Thomas Peterffy has also donated $3 million to Spirit of Virginia this year.

  • Carolyn Fiddler

    Carolyn Fiddler is Dogwood's chief political correspondent. She is also the nation’s foremost expert in state politics with almost two decades of experience in statehouse machinations, and her comic book collection is probably bigger than yours.


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