The duel between PGA Tour and Saudi Arabia-funded LIV Golf seems to be heating up each day as new skeletons tumble out of the closet.
Clout Public Affairs, the PGA Tour’s public relations firm, has filed a lawsuit against the Saudi-backed circuit in the latest chapter of the Tour’s battle with LIV. According to the suit, LIV is using the discovery phase of its antitrust lawsuit to compile a dossier, which is said to include relatives’ of 9/11 victims who have made comments critical of the Saudi government. Some victims’ families have criticized the LIV Golf Series and its presence in the United States.
Clout made the claim reported by Bloomberg. It also has ties to the 9/11 Justice group, which is suing Saudi Arabia over the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Last year, the 9/11 Justice group protested the Saudi-funded league in Portland and New Jersey and has threatened to strike again.
LIV Golf filed a motion in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in December to compel Clout Public Affairs, a Houston-based firm, to produce documents in connection with the ongoing antitrust lawsuit filed last year in Northern California by LIV and three former PGA Tour players against the Tour.
The PR firm, which represents the Tour, the 9/11 Justice organization, and LIV’s lawyers, claimed that “the Tour itself has been secretly fomenting the anti-Saudi sentiment that it now uses to justify its illegal conduct.” According to the motion, the Tour has been “running a clandestine public relations campaign to smear LIV for its Saudi funding,” and Clout Public Affairs was hired to “front” the campaign.
Clout’s attorneys responded to a motion to transfer the case from the District of Columbia to the Northern District of California on Tuesday with a scathing description of “LIV’s sovereign alter ego, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
While LIV claimed that the 9/11 organizations “engaged in an ‘astroturf’ campaign against the Kingdom and LIV,” Clout’s attorneys argued that the legal maneuvering was intended to identify those who are critical of Saudi Arabia and LIV. The motion read that the professional golf tour “seeks information not only on Clout’s work regarding LIV and golf,” but also seeks to scrutinize any communications between Clout and the 9/11 families about the league, sovereign wealth fund, and those hired to monitor 9/11 families in the US.
Last year, groups of 9/11 victims and families protested LIV events in New Jersey and Portland, and they have impended to protest this year’s Masters, where LIV players are expected to compete.
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