In the wake of the PGA Tour’s announcement that it will merge with Saudi-backed LIV Golf, Rep. John Garamendi, D-Calif., has introduced a bill that seeks to strip the American golf league of its tax-exempt status.
According to The Hill, the “No Corporate Tax Exemption for Professional Sports Act,” would end the tax loophole that the PGA Tour and other professional sports leagues have used to avoid paying federal corporate income tax. Leagues would become taxable under the proposal if they generate more than $100 million per year in corporate income.
In a statement, Garamendi said that 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.”
“PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan should be ashamed of the blatant hypocrisy and about-face he and the rest of PGA’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,” Garamendi said in his statement. “This merger flies in the face of the PGA players who turned down hundred-million-dollar paydays from the Saudi-backed LIV to align themselves with the right side of history and human decency.”
“The notion that the Saudi Sovereign Wealth Fund would pay zero dollars in taxes on their blood money and potentially billions of dollars in profits while countless American families pay their fair share while struggling to make ends meet is ludicrous,” he continued. “My common-sense legislation would right this wrong and bring some much-needed accountability to this matter.”
Founded in 2021, LIV Golf is supported by the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund, which is led by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., told Fox News he was “really sickened” by news of the merger.
“I thought the PGA was taking a principled stand,” he said. “When I saw the news [Wednesday], I was really disappointed because it seems they set aside all the human rights objections that they had and just decided, OK, well, we can make more money if we go a different direction.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., also had harsh words for the PGA Tour after news of the merger broke.
“I am disappointed and even outraged by the PGA’s sellout,” he said, according to Breitbart News. “The PGA ought to be ashamed, and its leadership, frankly, has lost all credibility, certainly all moral authority.”
Saying it was “shocked” and “deeply offended,” 9/11 Families United released a statement on the planned merger.
“PGA Commissioner Jay Monahan co-opted the 9/11 community last year in the PGA’s unequivocal agreement that the Saudi LIV project was nothing more than sportswashing of Saudi Arabia’s reputation,” 9/11 Families United Chair Terry Strada said. “But now the PGA and Monahan appear to have become just more paid Saudi shills, taking billions of dollars to cleanse the Saudi reputation so that Americans and the world will forget how the Kingdom spent their billions of dollars before 9/11 to fund terrorism, spread their vitriolic hatred of Americans, and finance al Qaeda and the murder of our loved ones. Make no mistake — we will never forget.”
When asked Wednesday if there should be any congressional oversight of the merger between the golf organizations, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said. “I don’t really have anything to say on that. It strikes me as not a governmental concern.”
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