TRENTON – Two state lawmakers – one from Central Jersey - have introduced legislation to prohibit any future LIV Golf events from being held in New Jersey.
The bill, introduced by state Sens. Andrew Zwicker, D- Middlesex, and Richard Codey, D-Essex, would prohibit sports organizations operated primarily through money received from sovereign wealth funds from hosting sporting or athletic events in the state.
Though the legislation does not specify LIV, which held a tournament at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster at the end of last month, LIV is funded through Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, a state-owned investment fund of money generated from a country's surplus reserves.LIV is a new global professional golf tour, offering an alternative to the American PGA Tour and the European DP World Tour. LIV has filed an antitrust action against the PGA Tour in federal court and has lured several PGA Tour stars, including Dustin Johnson, Bryson DeChambeau, Brooks Koepka and Patrick Reed.
LIV has come under fire from critics who see it as "sportswashing," an effort by the Saudi government to improve its global image. In Bedminster, the families of 9/11 victims protested the tournament because newly declassified FBI files indicate that at least a dozen Saudi officials provided financial and logistical support to the team of Islamists who pulled off the Sept. 11 attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people.
“No one would have believed that after that terrible day that we would be allowing foreign governments to hold events in New Jersey in an attempt to clean up their image after centuries of human rights abuses and connections to terrorists,” Codey said in a press release.
American intelligence officials have linked the Saudi crown prince to the vicious murder of The Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The Saudi government has also come under criticism for human rights abuses, especially toward dissidents and women.
LIV, which has held its first three tournaments in Bedminster, London and Portland, has announced it will hold more events next year, but has not said if it will return to the golf course owned by the former president.
Trump was present at the event last month along with other celebrities, including Tucker Carlson, Charles Barkley and Caitlyn Jenner.
LIV will hold its season-ending tournament at Trump National Doral in Miami in late October.
“New Jersey has long been fertile ground for producing top-quality athletes, and for hosting major sporting events known throughout the world. Yet we do not need further recognition or notoriety from hosting competitions that are bankrolled by repressive governments or unsavory actors like Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” stated Zwicker, whose district includes parts of Somerset, Middlesex, Mercer and Hunterdon counties. “This legislation will prohibit the Saudi PIF or any other sovereign wealth fund from using New Jersey or its sporting organizations in any shameful ‘sportswashing’ endeavors.”
Mike Deak is a reporter for mycentraljersey.com. To get unlimited access to his articles on Somerset and Hunterdon counties, please subscribe or activate your digital account
This article originally appeared on MyCentralJersey.com: LIV Golf events in New Jersey would be banned under new bill