Monday December 4, 2023

LIV Golf Alleges Condoleezza Rice ‘Attempted to Influence’ DOJ

  • In filing as part of antitrust case against the PGA Tour, LIV Golf says Rice among Augusta members involved.
  • The Department of Justice is investigating the PGA Tour and others over alleged anticompetitive conduct.
Condoleezza Rice LIV Golf
Jack Gruber-USA TODAY Sports
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Former Secretary of State and Denver Broncos co-owner Condoleezza Rice was among the Augusta National Golf Club members the PGA Tour allegedly used to “wield extraordinary power both within and outside the golf world” to thwart LIV Golf, according to a court filing on Monday. 

LIV Golf lawyers wrote in the filing as part of the Saudi-backed tour’s antitrust lawsuit against the PGA Tour that discovery so far in the case has “shown that the Tour delivered these threats not only through its own executives and employees but by dispatching other influential persons on its behalf.”

Rice and banking executive Warren Stephens — both members of Augusta National — “apparently attempted to influence the U.S. Department of Justice to not investigate the Tour,” the filing stated. According to the filing, Stephens “apparently asked by Tour employees to lobby Senator Tom Cotton against LIV.”

Last year, the Department of Justice launched an investigation into the PGA Tour over allegations of anticompetitive behavior. The antitrust probe has since expanded to include Augusta and the United States Golf Association. 

The filing also mentioned August members Ginni Rometty (former CEO and president of IBM),  Bobby Long (chair of the Piedmont Triad Charitable Foundation), and former PGA Tour player John Harris. However, it’s unclear what alleged role those three played due to redactions in the document. 

Messages left with the PGA Tour and Augusta were not immediately returned on Monday. 

The New York Times reported last month that Rice and Rometty were among those approached by those working on behalf of Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, LIV Golf’s financial backer. The inquiries were part of an effort by those behind LIV Golf to assemble “an all-star board of business, sports, legal and political titans,” according to the newspaper.

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