PGA Tour is facing potential congressional retaliation for attempting to merge with a Saudi Arabian golf league.
- On June 6, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan announced that PGA Tour would merge with LIV Golf, a Saudi-Arabian rival league, into a single entity along with DP World Tour.
- On Monday, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) opened an inquiry as to details of the merger, asking how the company will function with regard to Saudi Arabia’s history of human-rights abuses.
- Blumenthal writes that PGA Tour’s agreement with LIV creates risks posed by a foreign government’s assuming control over a beloved American non-profit institution.
- Representative John Garamendi (D-CA) has similarly proposed the No Corporate Tax Exemption For Professional Sports Act—a bill that could strip the PGA of its 501(c)(6) tax-exempt status, Forbes reports.
Why It’s News
PGA Tour is facing intense scrutiny for its announced partnership with LIV, which has intensified to the point where it remains unclear whether the merger will proceed. PGA Tour describes itself as “the world’s premier membership organization for touring professional golfers,” so throwing its name and weight behind a Saudi league sends a poor message.
The 501(c)(6) status does not indicate that PGA Tour is a charitable organization, but it does operate as a non-profit organization that publicly discloses its revenues. Partnering with Saudi Arabia creates concerns about transparency, which is the first thing congressional representatives are targeting in retaliation.
The one-page bill is far-reaching and prevents professional sports leagues and organizations from filing as 501(c)(6) organizations under the current tax code.
“Saudi Arabia cannot be allowed to sports wash its government’s horrific human rights abuses and the 2018 murder of American-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi by taking over the PGA Tour. PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan should be ashamed of the blatant hypocrisy and about-face he and the rest of the PGA Tour’s leadership demonstrated by allowing the sovereign wealth fund of a foreign government with an unconscionable human rights record to take over an iconic American sports league and avoid paying a penny in federal corporate income tax,” says Representative Garamendi.