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Tipsheet

Why 9/11 Families Are Furious at LIV Golf

It’s not a mystery why the families of the 9/11 victims do not like the government of Saudi Arabia. Fifteen of the nineteen hijackers carried Saudi passports. These madmen carried out the most destructive act of terrorism on American soil, which cost the lives of nearly 3,000 Americans. Yet, the professional golf world has created a new front in this acrimonious feud between the two camps. The Saudi-backed LIV golf has poached top talent from the PGA tour. It’s doling out contracts to golfers that soar into the hundreds of millions, creating a quasi-free agency system in golf for the first time. And yes, there has been legal pushback, with the PGA filing an antitrust lawsuit against LIV.

The latest lawsuit has roped the PGA’s public relations firm, Clout, into the mix, however. Besides the PGA, Clout also has the group 9/11 Justice as clients. That organization is involved in an ongoing legal motion against Saudi Arabia over those heinous attacks on behalf of the families. In a shocking though unsurprising claim, Clout Public Affairs alleges that the ongoing suit between LIV and the PGA is being used for an ulterior motive by the Kingdom: to produce an intelligence file on the families of the 9/11 victims (via Golf Channel): 

In an escalation of the legal wrangling between the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, the Saudi-backed circuit has been accused of using discovery “to build an intelligence file” on groups of 9/11 victims and families who have criticized Saudi Arabia and the start-up golf league. 

In December, LIV Golf filed a motion in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to compel Clout Public Affairs, a Houston-based firm, to produce documents in conjunction with the ongoing antitrust lawsuit filed by LIV and a threesome of former PGA Tour players against the Tour last year in Northern California. 

Clout represents the Tour as well as the 9/11 Justice organization and lawyers for LIV claimed “the Tour itself has been secretly fomenting the anti-Saudi sentiment that it now uses to justify its illegal conduct.” The motion also claimed the Tour has been “running a clandestine public relations campaign to smear LIV for its Saudi funding” and that Clout was hired to “front” this campaign.

[…] 

…attorneys for Clout responded to a motion to move the case from the District of Columbia to the Northern District with a scathing description of “LIV’s sovereign alter ego, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” 

“LIV’s real objective in subpoenaing Clout, however, is to cull sensitive communications from Clout that cannot conceivably be useful in LIV’s antirust case,” the motion from Clout’s attorneys read. “Specifically, LIV wants Clout’s communications with 9/11 Justice, a group of victims and families who have advocated for years in favor of full disclosure and accountability regarding the Kingdom’s role in the September 11, 2001, terror attacks.” 

While LIV claimed that the 9/11 groups “engaged in an astroturf campaign against the Kingdom and LIV” attorneys for Clout argued that the legal maneuvering was aimed at identifying those who are critical of Saudi Arabia and LIV. 

Tiger Woods was one of those LIV targeted for defection to their club. The fledgling golf association reportedly offered the golf superstar in the neighborhood of $700-800 million to jump ship from PGA, but he refused. And now, international espionage has entered the mix.

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