Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTTwitter LogoFeatured Columnist IVJune 12, 2023

Leigh Vogel/Getty Images for SEIU

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal announced Monday that he is investigating the merger between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf.

Blumenthal is a Connecticut Democrat who serves as the Senate’s chairman on the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

Blumenthal specifically requested “documents and information” related to the agreement between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, noting that the PGA Tour’s agreement “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.”

LIV Golf is funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, which is run by crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. The PIF also owns Premier League club Newcastle United and controls a 75 percent stake in four Saudi Pro League clubs: Al-Nassr, Al-Ahli, Al-Ittihad and Al-Hilal.

The PIF has been accused of being a sportswashing endeavor, i.e., an attempt by the Saudi government to purchase sporting organizations or create leagues like LIV Golf in an effort to distract from its human-rights violations.

Kevin Draper and Alan Blinder of the New York Times reported that LIV “executives had signaled … that they expected their agreement to attract sustained attention from the federal government.”

Whether or not Blumenthal’s investigation leads to legislation attempting to block the deal remains to be seen. He wasn’t the only Senate Democrat to openly question golf’s shocking merger.

Chris Murphy 🟧 @ChrisMurphyCT

So weird. PGA officials were in my office just months ago talking about how the Saudis’ human rights record should disqualify them from having a stake in a major American sport.

I guess maybe their concerns weren’t really about human rights? https://t.co/SQ9HQuBsNT

“Yes,” Sen. Dick Durbin told reporters last week when questioned about whether regulators needed to further explore the PGA-LIV agreement. “And the question obviously is whether or not there is any current laws involving foreign relations or foreign business dealings that haven’t been complied with.”

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson, however, said the U.S. government should stay out of sports, while former Republican President Donald Trump called the merger “GREAT NEWS” on Truth Social and added that it was a “BIG, BEAUTIFUL, AND GLAMOROUS DEAL FOR THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF GOLF. CONGRATS TO ALL!!!”

The world of golf already had the attention of the United States federal government. According to Draper and Blinder, the Justice Department’s antitrust investigators “have spent months asking questions about the tour’s efforts to deter player defections to LIV and examining whether the tour’s top leaders were too close to other prominent golf organizations, like Augusta National Golf Club, the organizer of the Masters Tournament.”

This merger is likely to only further pique their interest.

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