October 13, 2022

Trenton – The Senate State Government, Wagering, Tourism & Historic Preservation Committee today released legislation sponsored by Senator Andrew Zwicker and Senator Richard J. Codey that would prohibit sports organizations operated primarily through use of monies received from sovereign wealth funds — such as Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund — from hosting sporting or athletic events in New Jersey.

Typically, a sovereign wealth fund is a state-owned investment fund comprised of money generated by the government, often derived from a country’s surplus reserves. Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the “Public Investment Fund” (PIF), is among the largest such funds in the world and is primarily funded through the country’s large fossil fuels supply and exports.

The Saudi PIF is also known for backing the new LIV professional golf circuit, which so far has held three tournaments around the United States, including one recently at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster. The bill would prohibit any future LIV events from being held in New Jersey.

“This legislation will prohibit the Saudi PIF from using New Jersey or its sporting organizations in any shameful ‘sportswashing’ endeavors. New Jersey has a long tradition of producing top-quality athletes, and for hosting major sporting events known throughout the world. I have been contacted by families who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks that are outraged by a sports competition bankrolled by a repressive government and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” said Senator Zwicker (D-Middlesex/Mercer/Somerset/Hunterdon). “There is no good reason to host this golf tournament ever again in New Jersey.”

American intelligence officials have linked the Saudi crown prince to the murder of The Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi. A number of media outlets have reported on the Saudi government’s long record of human rights abuses, especially toward dissidents and women, while American family members and survivors say that recently declassified documents show Saudi support of the 9/11 hijackers — 15 of the 19 of whom were Saudi citizens.

“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,” said Senator Codey (D-Essex/Morris).

Under the bill, S-3032, the Attorney General would have the authority to monitor and ensure compliance with the bill’s provisions by a county, municipality, political subdivision, organization, property owner, and permit or license holder.

The bill was passed out of committee by a vote of 3-2.