GOLF

LIV Golf among issues PGA Tour paid lobbyists $190,000 for this year

ADVERTISEMENT

  • The PGA Tour has paid $190,000 to lobby Congress and the president so far this year, according to lobbying disclosure reports filed by DLA Piper LLC.
  • In 2021, disclosures began listing “Saudi Golf League proposals” to its specific lobbying issues.
  • The PGA Tour’s investment in lobbying increased by $50,000 in the second quarter, reaching $120,000 as LIV Golf staged its first events.

According to public disclosure reports, the PGA Tour has so far spent $190,000 lobbying Congress and the Biden administration this year on various issues, including what is specified as “Saudi League proposals golf”.

Reports show the PGA Tour paid $70,000 in the first quarter and $120,000 in the second quarter of 2022 to law firm DLA Piper LLP, which in turn lobbied members of the House, Senate and from the Executive Office on issues of tax legislation, CARES Act implementation and American Rescue Plan, and of course, the Saudi-backed LIV Golf series.

ADVERTISEMENT

The upstart league, financially backed by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund, has recently lured several top players away from the PGA Tour – from world No. 16 Dustin Johnson to former Ryder Cup captain Henrik Stenson, who was dismissed from his position in the European team. Wednesday due to his decision to join LIV.

First appearing on disclosures in the second quarter of 2021, when the first unofficial reports of a Saudi-funded breakaway golf tour began to emerge, the “Saudi Golf League Proposals” have been a constant lobbying issue for the PGA Tour ever since.

The Tour referred Insider to DLA Piper, who declined to comment specifically on his work for the PGA Tour and discussions with government officials.

The amount the Tour paid to DLA Piper increased by 40% in the second quarter of this year, just as LIV Golf held its first events in June. The series now turns to its third event later this month, which will take place at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, on the home course of former President Donald J. Trump.

Earlier this week, Trump weighed in on the growing rift between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, posting on Truth Social: “All of those golfers who remain ‘loyal’ to the very unfair PGA, in all of its various guises, will pay a heavy price. when the inevitable MERGER with LIV happens, and you get nothing but a big “thank you” from the PGA officials who make millions of dollars a year. If you don’t take the money now you won’t get anything after the merger takes place, and only say how smart the original signers were.”

The emergence of LIV Golf has sparked widespread criticism and concern over the practice of so-called “sportswashing”, in which authoritarian regimes attempt to clean up their public image by funding the sport. Saudi Arabia’s involvement in professional golf, some would say, distracts from the country’s history of human rights abuses and the 2018 murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

The PGA Tour, of course, also has business interests in maintaining the status quo, as big-name names – whether players or perhaps, one day, sponsors – leaving the established Tour could ultimately hurt to its results.

Incidentally, last week The Wall Street Journal reported that the Justice Department was investigating the PGA Tour to determine if it “engaged in anti-competitive behavior” in its decision to ban players who left for LIV Golf. .

The PGA Tour was previously investigated in 1994 by the Federal Trade Commission regarding similar rules that prevented players from participating in non-Tour events. Nothing came of this investigation.

“It was not unexpected,” a PGA Tour spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal of the ongoing DOJ investigation. “We went through that in 1994, and we’re confident of a similar outcome.”

ADVERTISEMENT