Cornyn Presses Biden on PGA Investigation, Administration Contact with Saudis


In: All News   Posted 07/14/2022
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I am concerned about whether members of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, or any other member of your administration, was involved in the investigation recently being made public.

"I also have questions about whether your administration had any contact with the Saudi Arabian government about the investigation, either before it opened or afterwards."

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) wrote a letter to President Biden late yesterday asking him to explain the timing of press reports on the Department of Justice’s antitrust investigation into PGA Golf. Specifically, the timing raises questions about the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s involvement in both the underlying antitrust investigation and Monday’s media reports of the investigation, as well as potential foreign lobbying issues relating to the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).

“I am concerned about whether members of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, or any other member of your administration, was involved in the investigation recently being made public,” Sen. Cornyn wrote. “I also have questions about whether your administration had any contact with the Saudi Arabian government about the investigation, either before it opened or afterwards.”

Full text of the letter can be found here and below, .

July 13, 2022

The Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

President of the United States

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:

I write to raise concerns about the timing of your administration’s investigation into the PGA Tour, an American company. This investigation, according to news reports, is focused on the PGA Tour’s effect on a Saudi Arabian-funded enterprise, LIV Golf. On Monday, July 11, 2022, the week you traveled to Saudi Arabia, the Wall Street Journal reported that your administration had sent inquiries regarding the PGA Tour’s actions as they relate to LIV Golf.

I am concerned about whether members of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, or any other member of your administration, was involved in the investigation recently being made public. I also have questions about whether your administration had any contact with the Saudi Arabian government about the investigation, either before it opened or afterwards.

In writing, I want to note the extensiveness of Saudi Arabian influence on American life. This investigation into the private sector has potential implications both for our nation’s foreign policy and for transparency at home. Saudi Arabia has a history of surreptitious and at times malign behavior in its attempts to influence American public policy and freedom of speech in our own country. In 2016, the Saudi government used shell non-profits to trick several American veterans into lobbying on its behalf against the Justice Against State Sponsors of Terrorism Act (P.L. 114 – 222). In 2018, Saudi Arabian operatives murdered U.S.-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside its own consulate. This was an appalling act of transnational repression. Those who ordered this crime have yet to be held accountable. Despite these actions, Saudi Arabia continues to engage easily on the world stage, knowing that it can lobby, influence, and engage in malign behavior without consequence. 

Against this backdrop, I write to request answers to the following questions regarding the PGA Tour investigation and Saudi Arabia’s potential knowledge and involvement.

1.       Did anyone in your administration communicate with anyone in the press, off the record or otherwise, about LIV Golf or the PGA Tour investigation prior to the Wall Street Journal’s request for comment?

2.       Did the Saudi Arabian government or any agent of that government approach anyone in your administration regarding LIV Golf or the PGA Tour investigation?

3.       Did the Saudi Arabian government or any agent of that government encourage any member of your administration to open the PGA Tour investigation?

4.       Did the Saudi Arabian government or any agent of that government approach anyone in your administration regarding any potential discussion of the investigation with any member of the press prior to your July visit to Saudi Arabia?

5.       Did the Saudi Arabian government or any agent of that government approach anyone in your administration to discuss the PGA Tour investigation during your July trip to Saudi Arabia?

6.       If so, what was the nature of any discussion?

7.       Were any lobbying efforts made on behalf of the Saudi Government relating to either press coverage of the investigation or the investigation itself?

8.       If so, were these lobbying efforts compliant with all Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) registration requirements?

9.       How did your administration ensure FARA compliance during your conversations with any foreign agents of the Saudi Government about these issues?

10.   What is the status of the investigation?

Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

 

JOHN CORNYN

United States Senator