LIV Golf ‘propaganda’ lobbying efforts weren’t well received by some Republicans

It sounds like Greg Norman’s lobbying efforts for LIV Golf aren’t going well.

Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) reportedly called Norman’s lunch with members of the Republican Study Committee on Wednesday “propaganda” and said the RSC shouldn’t spend its time with a league backed by the Saudi Arabian government.

Why is LIV lobbying?

Norman met with Burchett, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ind.) and other members of the RSC in an effort to sway their sentiments in the Justice Department’s investigation into the PGA Tour for potential antitrust violations against LIV. The DOJ is reportedly looking to determine if the PGA Tour engaged in anticompetitive behavior to block golfers from playing in the rival league. The Tour declined these allegations.

LIV brought on a lot of big-name stars in the sport of golf and the PGA responded by banning all players who left the Tour. Phil Mickelson and other LIV golfers have since filed their own antitrust lawsuit against the PGA, but that won’t see trial until 2024.

LIV hired lobbying firm Hobart Hallaway & Quayle Venture in late August to help with the “education and issues related to the game of professional golf in the United States and abroad” and “[p]protecting the rights of professional golfers to play when and where they choose,” according to the official filing. And that lobbying seemingly started this week when a league spokesperson said in a statement that “LIV Golf is coming to the Hill this week to meet with lawmakers from both parties.”

“Given the PGA Tour’s attempts to stifle our progress in reimagining the game, we think it’s imperative to educate members on LIV’s business model and counter the Tour’s anti-competitive efforts.”

Norman reportedly already met with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)the only Democrat so far to speak with the CEO of LIV this week.

LIV can’t escape its Saudi backers

Burchett wasn’t the only one not interested in Norman’s pitch. Fellow Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), who is also a member of the RSC, called for the Justice Department to investigate LIV for potential Foreign Agents Registration Act violations for not registering its connection to Saudi Arabia.

“At this point, there is no mistaking the origins and purpose of LIV Golf,” Rep. Roy wrote in a statement to Attorney General Merrick Garland in July. “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is funneling money through its Public Investment Fund (PIF) to stand up LIV Golf as an exercise in public relations. In other words, a foreign government’s dollars are being used to enhance that government’s brand and positioning here in the United States.

“… the American people deserve to know the depth and breadth of Saudi Arabia’s unprecedented political and public relations activities through its LIV Golf entity.”

What Roy is effectively alluding to is sportswashing — a term which basically means Saudi Arabia is trying to cover up its countless human rights violations with extravagant sporting events. The government has already invested billions of dollars in the rival golf league and lured some of the biggest stars with six-figure paychecks before they even stepped onto a course.

As Burchett stated in his first tweet, Saudi Arabia is most recently known for its involvement in the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Mickelson — the league’s most prominent golfer — even admitted he understood the “scary” business partners who are paying him millions of dollars and the atrocities committed by the Saudi government. But that hasn’t stopped Mickelson or others from taking the money.

LIV just wrapped its fifth tournament of the year in Chicago. It has yet to secure a major broadcast platform other than Facebook Live, YouTube, DAZN and a few international outlets.

LIV Golf’s lobbying efforts have failed so far. (Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports)