PGA-Saudi LIV merger has Congress teed off. But one senator won't commit to quitting his golf money.
Republicans and Democrats alike have been blasting the planned mega-merger this week of the PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia-backed LIV Golf.
But one leading merger critic — Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) — wasn't so enthusiastic about discussing a recent campaign donation he received from the PGA's political action committee.
“I’m really focused on what can be done, what is appropriate to do about the merger, given the possibility, the goal of sports-washing by the PGA," Blumenthal said Thursday when asked by Raw Story whether he would return or otherwise dispose of the $1,000 the PGA Tour Inc. Political Action Committee contributed to his re-election campaign committee in October, according to Federal Election Commission records.
Blumenthal is one among several federal lawmakers to have received four- or five-figure contributions from the PGA's PAC in recent years, Federal Election Commission records indicate.
Others include Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who received $10,000 in 2021, and Senate Minority Whip John Thune (R-SD), who got $10,000 in 2022. Schumer and Thune could not immediately be reached for comment.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (C-SPAN)
While fairly uncommon, federal lawmakers may legally dispose of unwanted or surplus campaign cash by returning it, donating it to charity or disgorging it to the U.S. Treasury's general fund.
Blumenthal, who defined "sports-washing" as “the use of investment in a sport to give credibility or to redeem the reputation of a country or interest that is in disrepute," said Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund "seems to be buying control of an American sport.”
Given this, "I think there is a role and responsibility for Congress” to investigate the matter, Blumenthal told Raw Story.
Blumenthal easily won a third term in the U.S. Senate in November.
The Saudi kingdom has been widely panned for repressive policies and human rights abuses, with Amnesty International accusing the nation's government of a litany of wrongdoings.
American intelligence agencies concluded in a report that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman approved the 2018 assassination of Washington Post contributing columnist Jamal Khashoggi, a leading critic of Saudi Arabia's government.
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