CEO and Commissioner LIV Golf Greg Norman He met with federal lawmakers on Capitol Hill on Wednesday to lobby on behalf of the new constituency funded by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, and his message was met with mixed comments from politicians.
Representative Tim Burchett of Tennessee told ESPN that he walked out of Norman’s lunch meeting with the Republican Study Committee and called his lobbying efforts “propaganda.” He also took to Twitter to Questions the ties of Saudi Arabia On the 9/11 attacks and their role in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, Washington Post columnist.
“It’s propaganda,” Burchett said of meeting Norman. “I don’t want to hear about it. It’s not up to Congress to settle a battle between a group of billionaires over golf. They need to take it to the courts. Congress made a terrible mistake by getting involved in Major League Baseball. Here we are dealing with a [league] Funded by some Saudis. I just thought our priorities were out of control.”
Norman told reporters after the lunch meeting that he wants lawmakers to have “both sides of the story in order to understand what LIV is about,” according to a report from The Hill.
“Don’t come here and act like you’re doing something great, while you’re pimping with a billion dollars in Saudi Arabia’s money,” Representative Chip Roy of Texas told reporters after the lunch meeting.
“I respect Greg and him [right] “Go out and do whatever he wants,” Roy told ESPN on Wednesday. But it’s not quite as simple as he’s trying to do. He says they just want to compete, and it’s as if hummingbirds and butterflies are flying everywhere. The bad big PGA Tour and their monopoly keep them from the great little competition. It’s much more complicated than that.”
Roy said he asked Norman why LIV Golf and its employees were not registered as foreign agents with the federal government. Norman told reporters that LIV Golf is a commercial operation, “so we’re just here to grow golf.”
Roy said Norman tried to avoid talking about LIV Golf’s ties to Saudi Arabia.
“They honestly don’t want to talk about Saudi Arabia,” Roy said. “That’s the honest truth. I think it was promoted as something to come in there and kind of explain that and talk about it, but I felt like it was very clear that they didn’t want to talk about it. Former President Trump, who the road is financially interested in LIV, has said that this It represents a billion dollars of propaganda for Saudi Arabia. They just kind of turn it down.”
About 75 members of Congress attended the meeting, in which Norman spoke for 20 minutes, Roy said. Other lawmakers asked Norman about the impact this would have on the PGA Tour and her philanthropy, while others had “some interest in whether there is some kind of competition question and is there any interference or is the competition preventing the PGA Tour.”
“This is not about pure competition,” Roy said. “Don’t come over here and try to sell me something that isn’t what you’re actually selling. You’re selling something a lot in bed with the Saudis, so the Saudis can achieve their goal and Greg can get it done. He always wanted a competition run for the tour, and he wasn’t able to do So until my father got a billion dollars in sugar known as Saudi Arabia.”
The US Department of Justice has opened an investigation into whether the PGA Tour is illegally trying to crush the competition. The PGA Tour denied the allegations.
LIV Golf and a handful of its players also filed a federal antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour for suspending members from playing at LIV Golf events, and for allegedly pressuring sellers, broadcast networks, agents, and others not to work with the new league.
The Washington Examiner reported Wednesday that Norman also met with top Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee, including Jim Jordan of Ohio and Matt Gaetz of Florida, and told lawmakers he’s willing to testify before Congress to discuss antitrust issues.
ESPN confirmed Wednesday that Norman also met with a House majority, Webb Jim Claiborne, a Democrat from South Carolina, and Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia. A Clyburn spokesperson said the lawmaker recently met with the leadership of the PGA Tour.
“I am very encouraged that Mr. Norman has offered to testify before the House Judiciary Committee during my discussion with him today,” Gates said in a statement to ESPN. “He has a wealth of knowledge regarding the role of golf in culture and in the world. I think the country would benefit from hearing more about his point of view.”
ESPN lead authors Michael Fletcher and Mark Finaro-Wada contributed to this report.