Since last year, the PGA TOUR has been behind-the-scenes discussions with White House officials and parliamentarians about concerns about Saudi-funded rival league LIV Golf.
As the LIV Golf plan came together, the PGA Tour began quietly reaching out to the White House and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle in the second quarter of 2021, according to lobbying disclosure reports and people familiar with the matter.
Since last year, the PGA TOUR has paid DLA Piper $ 360,000 to lobby lawmakers on multiple topics, including the Saudi Golf League Proposal.
According to the latest filing, the PGA Tour invested $ 120,000 in the second quarter of 2022 from April to June 30th. Records show that the PGA Tour spent the same amount in early 2004, spending the most lobbying on a period of time since seeking a federal budget and grant for a youth charity golf program. .. According to filing..
According to the latest filing, the tour lobbyed President Joe Biden’s executive office in the second quarter of this year.
Last year’s lobbying led Biden’s advisors to propose a roundtable discussion between PGA Tour representatives and Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to the United States. Reimabint Bandar ArsaudDiscuss the Saudi-funded golf league, according to one of those with knowledge of effort.
The person said the PGA Tour refused to hold the meeting because he did not believe that tour officials would bring many Saudi course modifications. This person refused to name him to speak freely about private conversations.
A White House spokesman did not return a request for comment. “I’m not going to comment on a particular meeting,” PGA Tour spokeswoman Laura Neil told CNBC on Thursday.
LIV Golf League reportedly saw something else $ 2 Billion Saudi Arabia Financing This spring, the competition officially started in England last month and will be held next week at the golf course of former President Donald Trump in Bedminster. NJLIV Golf is headed by former PGA Tour star Greg Norman.
The league has won contracts with America’s largest PGA Tour golfers, including Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson.each Reportedly Signed a deal with LIV Golf, worth well over $ 100 million.
Johnson and Mickelson in A golfer whose PGA Tour has been interrupted due to participation in the LIV league.The Ministry of Justice Reportedly Investigate whether the PGA Tour was involved in anti-competitive behavior.
U.S. officials have been scrutinizing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for years, including after the murder of Washington Post journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi.U.S. intelligence agency report Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman says he has approved an operation to catch or kill Khashoggi.Crown prince has Rejected Accusation.Biden recently visited Saudi Arabia was criticized for fisting the crown prince in an attempt to change the direction of relations with the country.
Tensions between the United States and Saudi Arabia are now boiling in professional golf. PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan joins the LIV League Recent press conference..
“We welcome good and healthy competition. The LIV Saudi Golf League is not. It is an unreasonable threat and has nothing to do with the rate of return on investment or the true growth of the game,” Monaghan told reporters. Told.
Family of victims of 9/11 terrorist attacks Raised a voice Against Trump for hosting a Saudi-funded tournament at his New Jersey club. Of the 19 hijackers on September 11, 2001, 15 were from Saudi Arabia. Mastermind Osama bin Laden was born there. The kingdom denied that it was related to the attack. Trump’s Golf Course in Miami will host another LIV Golf event in October.
Trump recently praised Truth Social’s post on LIV Golf and encouraged golfers to receive money provided by Saudi-backed leagues.
“All golfers who remain” loyal “to the highly dishonest PGA will in many ways pay a great price for the inevitable merger with the LIV. And you only get big thank you from PGA officials. I earn millions of dollars a year. ” “If you don’t take the money now, you won’t get anything after the merger,” he added...
Contrary to Trump’s claim, there are no signs that the PGA Tour and LIV will merge.
Lobbying the PGA Tour at Capitol Hill has resulted in letters from lawmakers to the Commissioner, even from some Trump allies.
Senator Lindsey Graham, RS.C. “I’m worried that the formation of the Saudi Golf League will focus on the Saudi government’s actions, especially in the area of human rights,” he told PGA Tour Monaghan last year.
Graham also called Saudi Arabia a “valuable ally” and told the commissioner that “players should be aware of the complexity that comes from the Saudi government-sponsored golf league.” Graham, who regularly plays golf with the former president, has been a loud Trump supporter since the 2020 elections.
A Graham spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
Read more about the PGA Tour-LIV Golf Battle
PGA Tour officials delivered a message similar to Monahan’s remarks in a conversation with Congressman, and the LIV Golf League is one of the familiar people of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia to improve his image. He mentioned concerns that it is a way to exert influence in. The problem said.
Senator Ron Weiden, D-Ore. , And his staff heard from PGA Tour officials about their issues with LIV, a spokesman for the Weiden office told CNBC during a Wednesday call.Weiden, a frank critic of Saudi Arabian Government According to the aide, the LIV Tour briefly spoke to PGA Tour representatives about the LIV League in the Parliamentary Hall when golfers were visiting Capitol Hill.
These conversations between PGA Tour official Weiden (Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee) and his office were supported by Saudi, who hosted one of the events in April in Portland, Oregon. It took place after making a public statement about the Golf Tournament.
“When U.S. sports agencies are familiar with the government helping people circumvent the U.S. judicial system, they are selling their integrity for the benefit,” Weiden said in April. I told the local Oregon newspaper. “Anyone who calls this Saudi-related tournament shot in US soil needs to step up and take responsibility for how they are trying to effectively clean up the Saudi administration’s dirt.”
Weiden, Senator Jeff Merkley, D-Ore. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt. , And Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, later co-signed letter Prior to my trip to Saudi Arabia, I asked Biden, “At least put human rights at the center of your meeting.”
A Merkley spokeswoman told CNBC that neither he nor his staff were talking to PGA Tour representatives. “Saudi Arabia is not allowed to cover up their terrible human rights records, including the murder of journalists, on a flashy golf tour,” Markley said last month. Merkley too Longtime critic Of the Saudi Arabian government.
A Lehi spokesman said he and his staff had not met with PGA Tour officials. The Blumenthal representative did not respond to the request for comment.