LIV Golf CEO and Commissioner Greg NormanWednesdays meeting with federal lawmakers at Capitol Hill was to lobby for the new circuit that is being funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund. The message was met mixed reviews from politicians.
ESPN reported that Tim Burchett, a Tennessee Republican, said he left Normans lunch meeting with Republican Study Committee. He also described his lobbying efforts to be propaganda. He also took to Twitter. Questions about Saudi Arabias connectionsU.S. citizen.
Burchett claimed that Normans meeting was propaganda. I don’t want to hear about it. Its not the business of Congress to settle a dispute between billionaires over a game. They should take it to court. Congress made a huge mistake by getting involved with Major League Baseball. This is a problem. [league]Being funded by some Saudis. I thought our priorities were out-of-whack.
Reporters heard Norman tell reporters after the lunch that he wanted lawmakers have both sides” of the story in order to understand LIV, according to The Hill.
After the lunch meeting, Rep. Chip Roy of Texas said to reporters: Dont pretend youre doing something great while youre pimping billions of Saudi Arabian cash.
I respect Greg [right]Roy said Wednesday that he is free to go out and do what he wants. Its not as easy as he makes it seem. He claims they just want competition. Its almost like there are hummingbirds or butterflies everywhere. They cant have their little competition because of the monopoly of the PGA Tour. Its a lot more complicated than that.
Roy said that he questioned Norman regarding why LIV golf and its employees aren’t registered as foreign agents with federal government. Norman explained to reporters that LIV Golf was a commercial operation and that it was just to grow the game.
Roy said Norman tried not to talk about LIV Golfs links to Saudi Arabia.
Roy stated, They just didnt want us to talk about Saudi Arabia. Thats what the truth is. I believe it was intended to be explained to them and to talk about it. But it was clear that they didn’t want to talk about the matter. Trump, who is, by the way, financially interested LIV, stated that this is a billion dollar of publicity for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Theyre kind of dismissing the idea.
Roy said that about 75 members were present at the meeting. Norman spoke for around 20 minutes. Norman was questioned by other lawmakers about the impact on the PGA Tours charity work and the PGA Tours financial situation. Others were interested in Normans answer to a competition question, and whether there was any interference or blocking competition.
Roy stated, This isn’t about pure competition. Dont try to sell me something you dont actually sell. Youre selling something that is very much connected to the Saudis. Greg can achieve his goal. He has always wanted to have a rival organization to take on the tour. But he was unable to until he found a billion-dollar sugar daddy, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
The U.S. Department of Justice launched an investigation into whether the PGA Tour illegally tried to squash competition. The allegations were denied by the PGA Tour.
LIV Golf and a few players have also filed a federal lawsuit against the PGA Tour in antitrust proceedings. The suit alleges that LIV Golf suspended its members from participating in LIV Golf events. It also alleges that LIV Golf pressured vendors, broadcast networks and agents not to work with the new league.
The Washington Examiner reported Wednesday night that Norman met with senior Republicans of the House Judiciary Committee (including Jim Jordan of Ohio and Matt Gaetz from Florida) and said that he was open to testifying before Congress about antitrust issues.
ESPN confirmed Wednesday that Norman met with House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (a Democrat from South Carolina) and Sen. Joe Manchin (West Virginia). Clyburns spokesperson stated that the lawmaker had met recently with PGA Tour leaders.
Gaetz stated that Im very encouraged by the offer of Mr. Norman to testify before the House Judiciary Committee during our discussion with him today, Gaetz stated in a statement sent to ESPN. He is a fount of knowledge about the role of golf culture-wide and internationally. I believe that the country would benefit greatly from his perspective.
This report was co-authored by Mark Fainaru–Wada, a senior writer at ESPN.