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Texas Senator Raises Concerns Over DOJ’s PGA Tour Probe Ahead Of Saudi Arabia Meeting
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 15: Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) speaks during a hearing on "Protecting America’s Children From Gun Violence" with the Senate Judiciary Committee at the U.S. Capitol on June 15, 2022 in Washington, DC. As the Senate negotiates a bipartisan gun legislation framework, the committee heard from medical experts, victims of gun violence and law enforcement officers from major cities. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) is raising concerns about the Biden administration’s decision to investigate the PGA Tour ahead of the president’s meeting with Saudi Arabia.

Earlier this week, news broke of the Department of Justice (DOJ) investigation into the PGA for anti-competitive practices related to LIV Golf, a Saudi-backed newcomer and alternative professional golfing circuit. Cornyn wrote a letter Thursday questioning the timing of the investigation.

“I write to raise concerns about the timing of your administration’s investigation into the PGA Tour, an American company. This investigation, according to news reports, is focused on the PGA Tour’s effect on a Saudi Arabian-funded enterprise, LIV Golf. On Monday, July 11, 2022, the week you traveled to Saudi Arabia, the Wall Street Journal reported that your administration had sent inquiries regarding the PGA Tour’s actions as they relate to LIV Golf,” Cornyn wrote, according to the New York Post.

“I am concerned about whether members of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, or any other member of your administration, was involved in the investigation recently being made public. I also have questions about whether your administration had any contact with the Saudi Arabian government about the investigation, either before it opened or afterwards,” he continued.

The PGA Tour confirmed to The Wall Street Journal Monday that the DOJ was investigating the golfing organization. Attorneys at the department’s antitrust division have contacted players’ agents about information regarding the circuit’s bylaws, as well as any restrictions the PGA has placed on players participating in competing tournaments.

The PGA Tour has taken action against a handful of golfers who have elected to play in the LIV, such as Bryson DeChambeau, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, Phil Mickelson, and Patrick Reed. The PGA and its allies in the industry have attempted to cut the LIV off from top-tier golf talent.

Biden is scheduled to meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman later this week about oil production. Saudi Arabia is the de facto head of the international oil cartel, OPEC. Russia’s restriction of fuel from Europe and the Biden administration’s anti-fossil fuel policies have driven up the price of oil and frustration with Biden’s energy agenda.

Biden campaigned on isolating Saudi Arabia over its history of human rights abuses, at one point calling it a “pariah” state. Now, Biden is traveling to Saudi Arabia in the hopes of placating the Saudi ruler and convincing him to lead OPEC into increasing oil production to bring down the global price of crude.

Cornyn wrote that he is suspicious of Saudi Arabia’s influence on the United States and the appearance of the Biden DOJ to go after the PGA so soon before Biden’s meeting with the crown prince.

“In writing, I want to note the extensiveness of Saudi Arabian influence on American life. This investigation into the private sector has potential implications both for our nation’s foreign policy and for transparency at home,” Cornyn wrote, according to the Post. “Saudi Arabia has a history of surreptitious and at times malign behavior in its attempts to influence American public policy and freedom of speech in our own country.

“In 2016, the Saudi government used shell non-profits to trick several American veterans into lobbying on its behalf against the Justice Against State Sponsors of Terrorism Act (P.L. 114 – 222). In 2018, Saudi Arabian operatives murdered U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside its own consulate. This was an appalling act of transnational repression. Those who ordered this crime have yet to be held accountable. Despite these actions, Saudi Arabia continues to engage easily on the world stage, knowing that it can lobby, influence, and engage in malign behavior without consequence,” Cornyn said.

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