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ICYMI: Another 2024 Republican Candidate Is Now Profiting Off Saudi-Backed LIV Golf [HuffPost]

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HuffPost: Another 2024 Republican Candidate Is Now Profiting Off Saudi-Backed LIV Golf 
By Akbar Shahid Ahmed
August 5, 2023

Key Points: 

  • West Virginia governor and Senate candidate Jim Justice just became the latest Republican to directly profit from the Saudi attempt to gain unprecedented influence over U.S. professional golf.
  • LIV Golf, the league that Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth vehicle launched in 2021, is hosting a high-profile tournament this weekend at The Greenbrier, a storied, family-operated resort owned by Justice… the arrangement has lucrative implications for both the Saudi-backed tour and the estate.
  • Multiple lawmakers and watchdog groups have warned about the effect of the sudden influx of Saudi funding through the golf campaign. They worry that it will suppress criticism or scrutiny of the kingdom, particularly over its appalling human rights record and policy moves like collusion with Russia to sustain high oil prices. 
  • As a senator … Justice would likely weigh in on Saudi-related issues like weapons sales regularly, given strong congressional interest in the U.S.’s relationship with the kingdom.
  • The governor has refused to sell the Greenbrier or place it in a blind trust, raising ethical concerns about how business there might influence his policies or create the appearance of a conflict of interest.
  • In dealing with the prospect of the Saudi-backed LIV, he’s demonstrated the fuzzy boundaries between his public office and his private property: In 2022, Justice met with Greg Norman, LIV’s CEO, at the Greenbrier and repeatedly made public remarks defending Saudi intervention in golf and the possibility of LIV hosting an event at the resort.
  • “At the end of the day, Saudi Arabia is our ally. We should be proud of the fact that they are just that,” Justice said last August. He described the country’s move into professional golf as a chance to “juice it up and make it better.”
  • Representatives for Justice did not respond to requests for comment for this story.
  • Meanwhile, skeptics of the Saudi golf endeavor continue to highlight how it would boost the kingdom’s influence in the U.S. and encourage the practice of using sport to distract from alarming behavior and cultivate soft power, a move sometimes referred to as “sportswashing.”

See also: “Jim Justice Cozies Up To” Saudi Arabia, Profits Off This Weekend’s Saudi-Backed LIV Golf Tournament

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