U.S. Senate to stage another hearing in wake of PGA Tour’s deal with Saudi PIF, LIV Golf

The U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI) will stage another hearing on Wednesday in Washington.

Beginning at 11 a.m. ET, the PSI will focus this hearing on the business deals that the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF) has with American companies.

That includes the PGA Tour, but nobody from the tour will officially testify on Wednesday, according to a Front Office Sports report.

“PIF is a commercial entity with extensive business dealings in the United States,” wrote Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) on Aug. 16.

Richard Blumenthal, U.S. Senate, PGA Tour, LIV Golf

Sen. Richard Blumenthal at the Jul. 11, 2023 hearing examining the PGA Tour’s deal with the Saudi PIF.
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

“PIF’s recent dealings with the PGA Tour demonstrate that it intends to be much more than a passive investor in the American enterprises in which it houses its considerable wealth.”

Sen. Blumenthal has repeatedly criticized the PIF and its deal with the PGA Tour. He hopes that he—along with the PSI he chairs—conducts a thorough and impartial investigation of the agreement.

The Connecticut Senator will also try to unearth Saudi Arabia’s business ambitions and further investigate the Kingdom’s role in the Sept. 11 attacks. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudi Arabian citizens.

Yet, PIF Governor Yasir al-Rumayyan, one of the most influential members of the Saudi Kingdom, again declined to testify.

Yasir al-Rumayyan, Dustin Johnson, LIV Golf

Yasir al-Rumayyan and Dustin Johnson.
Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/LIV Golf via Getty Images

“[Blumenthal’s suggestion [to] engage in an unprecedented effort to compel [al-Rumayyan’s] public testimony on a subject over which Saudi laws restrict the disclosure of information raises significant concerns that the Subcommittee is not affording due respect to the sovereignty and diplomatic interests at play, to say nothing of the risk posed to continued foreign investment in the United States,” wrote Raphael Prober, an attorney representing the PIF.

“Despite those concerns, the PIF and [al-Rumayyan] remain willing to continue to work with the Subcommittee to assist with its inquiry as it concerns the Agreement.”

This marks the second time al-Rumayyan declined an invitation, as he, LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman, and PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan were all unavailable for the first hearing, held on Jul. 11.

Despite those absences, PGA Tour Chief Operating Officer Ron Price and PGA Tour Policy Board Member Jimmy Dunne testified before the PSI, which revealed a ton of substance about the secretive negotiations that led to the deal between the PGA Tour and PIF.

9/11 Justice, U.S. Senate, PGA Tour, LIV Golf

9/11 Justice Families at the Jul. 11 PGA Tour-LIV Golf hearing.
Getty Images

Yasir al-Rumayyan lobbied for an Augusta National membership, while Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods would possibly own and operate LIV Golf teams.

Much more will likely be disclosed on Wednesday despite the absence of key stakeholders from the PGA Tour-PIF deal.

Instead, Ben Freeman, Ph.D., the Director of the Democratizing Foreign Policy Program at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, is listed as one of three witnesses. Freeman received his Ph.D. in political science from Texas A&M and focuses his work on foreign relations.

Brian Murphy, Ph.D., the Managing Director of Logically AI Inc., will join Freeman as a witness. Murphy received his doctorate from Georgetown and earned a master’s in Islamic Studies from Columbia. His role at Logically AI Inc. is focused on combating “misinformation and disinformation at scale,” per the company’s website.

The third witness on Wednesday will be Joey Shea, a researcher on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for Human Rights Watch. She earned a master’s from the University of Toronto in political science and a bachelor’s in political science from McGill University in Montreal.

These three individuals did not have a direct role in the negotiations.

Still, these witnesses are experts in Saudi Arabian-American relations and Middle Eastern foreign policy. They will undoubtedly help create greater context for the PGA Tour’s deal with the PIF.

Jack Milko is a golf staff writer for SB Nation’s Playing Through. You can follow him on Twitter @jack_milko for more golf coverage. Be sure to check out @_PlayingThrough too.

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top