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Senate Democrats press for Justice Department inquiry into PGA Tour-LIV Golf merger

(L-R) U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) communicate to newshounds just a few company minimal tax thought on the U.S. Capitol October 26, 2021 in Washington, DC.

Drew Angerer | Getty Pictures

WASHINGTON — Two top Senate Democrats with a song list of scrutinizing substitute and antitrust exercise personal called for a Justice Department investigation into the merger agreement between the PGA Tour and Saudi-funded LIV Golf.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Ron Wyden of Oregon asked the Justice Department to search out out whether or no longer the deal to combine the two entities’ industrial businesses violated the Sherman Antitrust Act.

The deal “would form a U.S. organization complicit – and power American golfers and their fans to affix this complicity – in the Saudi regime’s most contemporary strive to sanitize its abuses by pouring funds into main sports activities leagues,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter Tuesday to Attorney Frequent Merrick Garland and the DOJ’s antitrust chief, Jonathan Kanter.

“Vastly, the deal looks to personal a appreciable detrimental impact on competitors, violating several provisions of U.S. antitrust law, in spite of whether or no longer the deal is structured as a merger or some form of joint mission,” they added.

The letter follows Connecticut Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s inquiries to PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan and LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman for details on the merger. The PIF has beforehand acknowledged intentions to use its impact in sports activities to further the Saudi authorities’s desires, consistent with Blumenthal’s letter. (Monahan has taken a toddle away of absence to enhance from an undisclosed clinical situation.)

“We’re assured that after Congress learns extra about how the PGA Tour will lead this unusual mission, they’re going to know the alternatives it creates for our gamers, our communities, and our sport while keeping the American institution of golf,” the tour acknowledged in a commentary echoing its outdated response to Blumenthal’s probe.

The PGA Tour also insists the deal is no longer a merger and that Saudi Arabia’s Public Funding Fund will likely be a minority investor.

LIV Golf and the Justice Department declined to commentary.

The deal between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf would establish an discontinuance to pending antitrust litigation between the two golf organizations. The two aspects personal agreed to merge substitute operations to make a increased, yet-unnamed enterprise chaired by Yasir Al-Rumayyan, governor of Saudi Arabia’s Public Funding Fund. The deal straight away prompted antitrust concerns and questions about sponsorships and player compensation.

LIV Golf, which is funded by the PIF, became as soon as in a position to trap about a of golf’s supreme stars away from the PGA Tour rapidly after its founding in 2021, sparking several lawsuits between the companies.

The merger panicked LIV Golf’s critics in light of Saudi Arabia’s documented human rights abuses. Relatives of 9/11 victims personal protested the Saudi golf league attributable to the terrorists’ ties to the country. Osama Bin Encumbered, who deliberate the assault, became as soon as also born in Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who controls the PIF’s purse strings, will likely be accused of orchestrating the 2018 murder of Washington Submit journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Within the letter, the lawmakers pointed to the PGA Tour’s comments from a 2022 lawsuit, in which the organization acknowledged the Saudi entity is “no longer a rational financial actor,” and is “fascinating to lose billions of bucks to leverage [U.S. golfers] and the sport of golf to ‘sportswash’ the Saudi authorities’s defective status for human rights abuses.”

Warren, sits on the Senate Banking Committee, while Wyden chairs the Senate Finance Committee. The DOJ have to “allocate ample resources to carefully peep the proposed deal” including the ability penalties for educated golf in the U.S., the lawmakers acknowledged.

— CNBC’s Jessica Golden contributed to this text.

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