Connecticut senator Richard Blumenthal launching probe into PGA Tour-LIV agreement
LOS ANGELES – Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., sent letters to both PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman to request information about last week’s “framework” agreement between the Tour and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia.
The agreement was announced last Tuesday to create a new for-profit entity that will be funded by the PIF, which also owns 93 percent of LIV Golf. The agreement calls for an end to the litigation between the Tour, LIV Golf and the PIF and creates a path back for players who joined the breakaway circuit to reapply for Tour membership.
Beyond that, there were no other details.
“The PGA Tour’s agreement with PIF regarding LIV Golf raises concerns about the Saudi government’s role in influencing this effort and the risks posed by a foreign government entity assuming control over a cherished American institution,” the letter read.
Blumenthal – who is chairman of the permanent subcommittee on Investigations – also claims the move by the PIF, which is controlled by the Saudi government, is an attempt at sports washing, pointing out the Tour “was one of the loudest critics of LIV Golf’s affiliation with Saudi Arabia.”
According to last week’s announcement, the Tour plans to keep its tax-exempt status, which Blumenthal also questioned: “whether a foreign government may indirectly benefit from provisions in U.S. tax laws meant to promote not-for-profit business associations.”
The request includes any information regarding the agreement between the Tour and the PIF, any communication relating to the agreement between board members and executive management for both organizations and any internal communications about how the agreement could impact the Tour’s tax-exempt status.
The request, which begins with any communications starting in October 2021, is due on June 26.
Last summer the Wall Street Journal reported that the Tour is being invested by the Department of Justice for potential anticompetitive behavior toward LIV Golf.