It sounds like Greg Norman's LIV pitch to Congress did not go well
LIV Golf CEO Greg Norman visited Washington, D.C., this week to lobby his fledgling circuit’s validity. It sounds like it was an attempt made in vain.
Norman, whose Saudi-backed league filed an antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour, met with Congressional leaders to pitch why the tour (in his estimation) is guilty of competitive practices. However, despite LIV’s ties to former President Donald Trump, Norman’s meeting with the Republican Study Committee‚ the largest conservative caucus in the House, was met with criticism.
“Don’t come in here and act like you’re doing some great thing while you’re pimping a billion dollars of Saudi Arabian money and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the United States,” Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) told reporters.
According to reports, Roy pushed Norman on why LIV Golf has not registered as a foreign agent. Roy had previously called on the Justice Department to investigate if LIV violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act for its ties to the Saudi government. Roy later called Norman’s visit as nothing more than “PR for Saudi Arabia.”
Roy was not the only voice of dissent among the 75 Congressional members who met with Norman. Rep. Tim Burchett (R-Tenn.) departed the meeting before it ended, dismissing Norman’s anti-competitve claims and classifying them as “basically propaganda.”
“It shouldn’t be taking up our time,” Burchett said. “[We’re a] conservative organization, and we ought to be dealing with what we’ve got to deal with in our country, not with—worried about a bunch of Saudis, a bunch of billionaire oil people, are dealing with.”
Burchett added: “A bunch of rich guys [are] not gonna play golf somewhere—it doesn’t bother me one bit. Federal government needs to stay out of that and just let these country clubbers handle their own game.”
LIV Golf does have some support in Washington. Marjorie Taylor Greene, the controversial Congresswoman from Georgia, was seen by the side of Trump at the LIV Golf Bedminster event. In a statement to ESPN, Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) said Norman offered to testify in front of the House Judiciary Committee. “I'm very encouraged that Mr. Norman offered to give testimony to the House Judiciary Committee during my discussion with him today," said Gaetz, who has spent much of the past two years under investigation for alleged sex trafficking. "He has a wealth of knowledge regarding the role of golf in culture and in the world. I believe the country would benefit from hearing more about his perspective."
As for Norman, he told reporters he received a positive response from his meetings and said, “Not one person since I’ve been CEO has told me this is a bad idea.” And regarding his interactions with Roy and the inquiry of registering as a foreign agent, Norman replied, “We’re a commercial operation. So we’re here just to grow the game of golf.”
Last month a U.S. district judge set a tentative date for summary judgment in the lawsuit for July 23, 2023, where the tour will likely seek to dismiss the case. A trial date expected to begin on Jan. 8, 2024.