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Tim Burchett, Chip Roy criticize Greg Norman and LIV Golf

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As a federal antitrust case slowly winds its approach by the courtroom system, LIV Golf chief government Greg Norman visited Capitol Hill this week, receiving combined opinions from lawmakers as he tried to promote them on his breakaway league that has upended the golf world.

Whereas some lawmakers posed for selfies and appeared receptive to Norman, others questioned LIV Golf’s Saudi financing and mentioned Congress should not spend time intervening in a enterprise dispute between LIV Golf and the PGA Tour. LIV Golf and 7 of its golfers have sued the PGA Tour, saying the tour violated antitrust legal guidelines, allegations that the Division of Justice can be reportedly probing.

“They wished to speak about antitrust, and I may care much less,” Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) Stated in an interview. “It is not Congress’s job. We’re a rustic of legal guidelines; take it as much as the courts. That is the place it must be; not within the halls of Congress.

“How within the hell are we losing any time speaking a few bunch of millionaires and a golf recreation?” he continued. “That is all simply Saudi propaganda.”

Might the DOJ sway the PGA Tour-LIV Golf battle? It is sophisticated.

Having lured away a few of the sport’s most high-profile gamers with staggering contract gives, LIV Golf has staged 5 tournaments and introduced plans for a 14-event league season subsequent 12 months. However the upstart enterprise continues to face backlash over its Saudi benefactors and has successfully cleaved the skilled golf world in two. Norman got here to Washington this week for conferences with lawmakers, making an attempt to elucidate the LIV imaginative and prescient and likewise to put out methods it feels the PGA Tour has hindered its entrance into {the marketplace}.

The group of visiting officers, which included Norman and Atul Khosla, LIV’s president and chief working officer, met Tuesday and Wednesday with lawmakers from each chambers and each events, in line with an individual accustomed to the itinerary, together with particular person Senators and Home members, the Republican Examine Committee, some members of the Congressional Golf Caucus, some members of Home management and a few members of the Home Judiciary Committee.

“Greg Norman had a really productive day on Capitol Hill immediately in entrance of some 60 members of Congress,” LIV spokesman Jonathan Grella mentioned in an announcement Wednesday. “His message of him about the advantages of competitors was very nicely obtained, even when a pair members of Congress say in any other case.”

LIV Golf has courted controversy since its inception. The operation is funded by Saudi Arabia’s Public Funding Fund, and has been accused of being a high-priced try to “sportswash” the nation’s human rights violations, together with the 2018 killing of Washington Put up journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The households of 9/11 victims have additionally protested at some occasions.

Currying favor on Capitol Hill is a fragile activity for LIV officers, as Saudi relations proceed to be a divisive concern on either side of the aisle. Earlier than LIV’s occasion final weekend in Illinois, Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-In poor health.) tweeted: “This weekend, a golf glove will try to cowl a blood-stained hand because the LIV golf event involves Chicago within the Saudi authorities’s continued, determined try to wash up its picture. Cash should not be allowed to cowl up the homicide and dismemberment of a journalist or the imprisonment and harassment of activists like Raif Badawi, Waleed Abu Ak-Khair, and Salma al-Shehab. “

And in July, Rep. Chip Roy (R-Tex.) Despatched a letter to Lawyer Basic Merrick Garland urging the Division of Justice to research LIV Golf for probably violating federal legal guidelines by failing to register as a overseas agent.

In an announcement Wednesday, Roy mentioned, “Do not promote us ‘that is nearly competitors’ once they will not reply a few billion {dollars} to purchase off PGA Tour gamers… leading to a billion {dollars} of PR for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (quoting President Trump) in doubtless violation of FARA. “

As participant rankings tumble, LIV Golf worries about getting previous golf’s gatekeepers

LIV employed Hobart Hallaway & Quayle Ventures to foyer on its behalf and assist organize this week’s itinerary. The schedule included conferences with each West Virginia senators; LIV is reportedly contemplating staging one among its occasions on the Greenbrier resort subsequent 12 months. LIV officers additionally met individually with Home Majority Whip Rep. James E. Clyburn (DS.C.), and Rep. Nancy Mace (RS.C.), who chairs the Congressional Golf Caucus, amongst others.

The biggest assembly was Wednesday afternoon with about 65 members of the conservative Republican Examine Committee. Burchett was in that assembly however mentioned he left early out of frustration. Betsy DeVos, the previous schooling secretary, was additionally in attendance, however many lawmakers had been as an alternative drawn to Norman, Burchett mentioned.

“It simply ticked me off,” he mentioned. “All people’s assumption of Congress is a bunch of nation clubbers on the market enjoying golf with millionaires. By bringing Greg Norman in right here, they’ve simply perpetuated that fantasy much more. “

Whereas a few of his colleagues had been apparently receptive to the LIV presentation, Burchett mentioned he noticed no position for Congress within the ongoing LIV-PGA Tour dispute, and mentioned it is not possible to separate the LIV enterprise from its Saudi funding.

“You bought to appreciate the best way they deal with individuals of their nation is simply ridiculous,” he mentioned. “Girls could not drive till lately. … They’ve cultivated this radical tradition that led to 9/11. However they bring about out the greenback payments and we come operating. It is like Pavlov’s canine listening to the bell. “

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