Bipartisan members of a Senate subcommittee on homeland security demanded transparency from a Saudi Arabian investment fund during its second hearing on the controversial deal to merge the PGA Tour and Saudi-backed LIV Golf, according to CNBC.
“Saudi Arabia’s bid to buy professional golf in America is not just one investment in a vacuum,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), chairman of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, said on Capitol Hill. “It is instead part of a web of growing investments in this country. They are largely unknown and they are almost entirely without oversight.” Blumenthal announced that he had issued a subpoena on Wednesday to USSA International LLC, the PIF’s wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary, for documents related to the PGA Tour-LIV Golf deal and other U.S. investments.
Blumenthal and witnesses at the hearing accused Saudi Arabia of mirroring other authoritarian regimes like China and Russia by exploiting loopholes in certain investment platforms to spread their influence and exert soft power within the United States.
“At its core, then, this is not a business deal,” said Benjamin Freeman, director of the Democratizing Foreign Policy Program at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, of the PGA-LIV deal. “This is an influence operation. It’s meant to shape U.S. public opinion and U.S. foreign policy.”
According to Joey Shea, a Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates expert at the nonprofit Human Rights Watch who testified Wednesday, the PIF “has been ranked as amongst the least transparent, least accountable and with the least credible governance structures in the world.”