(Bloomberg) -- Senate Democrats are demanding investigations into the surprise merger this week between Saudi-owned LIV Golf and the PGA Tour, citing the specter of a monopoly as well as accusations of human rights abuses within the kingdom.
Several echoed families of the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, who have long said Saudi Arabia has failed to fully answer questions on any role it may have played in them.
The No. 2 Senate Democrat, Dick Durbin of Illinois, on Wednesday recalled Saudi officials’ refusal to comply investigations in the wake of 9/11, when he served on the Intelligence Committee.
“I have this arms-length attitude toward Saudi Arabia,” he told reporters.
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Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said in an interview with Bloomberg Television the Department of Justice should investigate the “absolutely abhorrent” deal. Such an investigation, he said, could ultimately block the merger.
“These PGA officials owe, not only an apology, they owe support to the 9/11 families in their quest for justice against Saudi Arabia,” Blumenthal said.
Fellow Connecticut Democrat Chris Murphy, who sits on the Foreign Relations Committee, blasted the deal, saying it puts “a foreign dictatorship in charge of a major US sports league.”
The governor of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, Yasir Al Rumayyan, will be the new entity’s chairman.
Murphy also pointed to the legal dispute between the two leagues following the kingdom’s costly effort to attract some of the PGA’s most famous names, including Phil Mickelson and Dustin Johnson, to its LIV tournaments.
The PGA filed a lawsuit that had already dragged in families of victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The parties said Tuesday that the proposed partnership would end all pending litigation.
“The PGA was up here on the Hill asking us to join with them in fighting back against the Saudis’ attempt to paper over their human rights record,” Murphy said. “Now they’re willing and enthusiastic to provide that same service to the Saudi government.”
The two organizations have resisted calling the deal a merger.
Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden of Oregon vowed to launch his own investigation, to probe — among other issues — whether the merger would give Saudis unfair access to US real estate.
“This is a shameless, hypocritical cash grab,” Wyden said. “I feel very strongly about this as do my constituents.”
Read More: PGA Golf Merger Is Saudi Arabia’s Biggest Soft Power Win Yet
Republicans, however, questioned whether Congress should get involved in the matter.
Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, a self-professed avid golf watcher, said he was shocked by the deal but said Congress “should just stay the hell out of sports.”
Johnson said he has mixed feelings as a fan about the merger of the two leagues.
“We’re missing these guys on the tour,” he said of the players who left the PGA for lucrative LIV payouts. “It will be fun to see a LIV guy go up against Rory McIlroy,” he added, referring to a PGA star.
But he also said he recognized Saudi ownership could turn off some fans and anger players who PGA Commissioner Jay Monahan convinced to stay with the league instead of taking Saudi money.
Marco Rubio of Florida, top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, dismissed the merger as a private business deal.
“What are they going to do with it, start a war with golf?” Rubio, who neither plays nor watches the sport, said. “I mean it’s a private company. PGA can merge with whoever they want.”
Other Republicans, however, said they expect the deal to be reviewed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States and other entities.
“It causes a little bit of heartburn,” said Senator Mitt Romney of Utah.
(Updates with merger detail in eighth paragraph)
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