The PGA Tour logo during the third round of the Travelers Championship on June 24, 2017, at TPC River Highlands in Cromwell, Connecticut.
Farid Kfoury | Icon Sportswire | Getty Images
A top Democratic lawmaker launched an investigation Monday into a planned merger between the PGA Tour and Saudi-backed LIV Golf.
senator. asked Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn. , details the agreement between the two organizations, including how the new combined entity will operate in light of human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, in letters to PGA Commissioner Jay Monahan and LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman.
Blumenthal’s letter comes as the PGA Tour-LIV deal faces intense scrutiny and skepticism about whether the merger can be completed, given the severity of past claims in the golf leagues’ past litigation against each other.
The Saudi government has been accused of widespread human rights abuses, including orchestrating the murder of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
September 11, Family United, a group representing families of victims of the terrorist attack, slams the merger over Saudi Arabia’s involvement. Blumenthal previously sided with the families of the victims when another organization, the 9/11 Justice Group, protested a LIV event at a golf course owned by former President Donald Trump.
Blumenthal, who chairs the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, wrote that the merger announcement on June 6 was “an abrupt and drastic reversal of a situation regarding LIV Golf.” The tour and its commissioner had previously spoken out strongly against the LIV and its role in professional golf.
Meanwhile, the Saudi government’s private investment fund, which owns LIV, has made clear plans to use investments in sports to achieve the Saudi government’s goals, according to Blumenthal’s letter.
“The PGA Tour agreement with PIF regarding LIV Golf raises concerns about the role of the Saudi government in influencing this effort and the risks posed by a foreign government entity taking control of a cherished American institution,” Blumenthal wrote.
Before the merger was agreed upon, the rivalry between the PGA and the LIV involved legal action between the two. The entities have agreed to crush all pending lawsuits as part of their plan to combine the business and rights into a yet-to-be-named for-profit corporation.
Monahan told CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” on Tuesday that the merger benefits golf despite past “tensions.”
The agreement will require approval by the PGA Tour Policy Council, according to a note to players from Monahan.
“We are confident that once Congress learns more about how the PGA Tour will take control of this new venture, they will understand the opportunities this will create for our players, our communities, and our sport, all while protecting an American golf institution,” the tour said. CNBC said in a statement later Monday.
LIV Golf declined to comment on Blumenthal’s letters.
Blumenthal requested answers to several inquiries, including a chart of the company’s structure and records of any disputes between corporate heads and any other stakeholders, by June 26.
CNBC channel Jessica Golden Contribute to this report.