Report: LIV Golf accuse US politician of attempting to influence DoJ probe

LIV Golf have accused former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice of attempting to stop a federal probe into the PGA Tour over antitrust violations.

Ben Smith's picture
Tue, 24 Jan 2023
Report: LIV Golf accuse US politician of attempting to influence DoJ probe

LIV Golf have accused former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice of attempting to stop the U.S. Department of Justice from investigating the PGA Tour over antitrust violations. 

The latest revelation was unearthed in court documents that were filed by LIV Golf in their latest bid for subpoenas. 

Rice is a member of Augusta National, host of The Masters, and was described by LIV attorneys as a person who "wields extraordinary power within and outside the golf world."

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They have accused Rice of trying help their North American rival to evade the consequences of anticompetitive conduct. 

In heavily-redacted documents, it reads:

"Augusta members Secretary Rice and Warren Stephens (CEO/Chairman of Stephens Bank) apparently attempted to influence the DOJ to not investigate the Tour."

Stephens is an American businessman said to have a net worth of $3bn. 

LIV have also accused PGA Tour employees of asking Stephens to lobby senator Tom Cotton "against LIV". 

It was confirmed before the 150th Open Championship last July the DoJ had opened an investigation into the PGA Tour's handling of its players and whether it had engaged in anticompetitive behaviour. 

Related: USGA chief on DoJ probe

The inquiry was confirmed after some players' agents revealed they had been approached by DoJ officials. 

The story was broken by the Wall Street Journal. 

An agent of a player who had left the PGA for LIV Golf told the publication that DoJ attorneys were like "a dog with a bone". 

They added: 

"They're on this. I expect them to dig as deep as they can because they're all over this."

Scroll down... 

The investigation also focuses on the PGA Tour's actions regarding the Official World Golf Ranking (OWGR).

The DoJ is said to be investigating whether the PGA conspired with the DP World Tour and governing bodies of the majors not to award OWGR points to LIV players.

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan and DP World Tour boss Keith Pelley sit on the OWGR board. 

But they have recused themselves from voting on whether or not the breakaway tour receives OWGR accreditation after taking legal advice. 

We went through this...

It is not the first time the PGA has been investigated for allegedly violating federal laws. 

The Federal Trade Commission investigated the circuit in 1994 but ended their probe with penalizing the PGA Tour. 

Responding to the investigation last July, the PGA Tour said in a statement:

"This was not unexpected. We went through this in 1994 and we are confident in a similar outcome."

Next page: Judge set to make huge ruling in LIV battle with PGA Tour