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Law Firm With 9/11 History Dumps Golfer After Move to Saudi Tour

July 21, 2022, 5:45 PM

Law firm Cozen O’Connor has ended a two-year sponsorship with professional golfer Jason Kokrak after he jumped to a breakaway circuit funded by the Saudi Arabia Public Investment Fund.

“In light of Mr. Kokrak’s affiliation with the new LIV Tour, we have mutually agreed he will no longer be an ambassador for Cozen O’Connor,” a firm spokesman said in a statement. “We wish him well in his future endeavors.”

LIV Golf announced Wednesday that Kokrak, the 36th ranked player in the world has joined the tour. Former European Ryder Cup captain Henrik Stenson and longtime PGA Tour pro Charles Howell III have also defected.

The new golf league has been widely criticized as an effort to “sportswash” Saudi Arabia’s reputation. One prominent voice of that criticism is families of victims who died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Cozen O’Connor and its chairman, Stephen Cozen, have played a leading role in a lawsuit against Saudi Arabia filed by 9/11 victims and families in 2003. The lawsuit alleges that Saudi Arabia government employees aided the hijackers who carried out the attack and that Saudi-linked organizations financed al Qaeda, the terrorist group behind it.

Saudi Arabia has consistently denied involvement in 9/11. The FBI last year declassified a 16-page memo that did not draw a conclusion on the allegations but detailed links and contacts between the terrorists and Saudi nationals living in the U.S. at the time, including one of the country’s diplomats.

Cozen O’Connor was the first Big Law firm to sponsor a professional golfer, starting with William McGirt in 2017. The firm announced its relationship with Kokrak in 2019, and its logo had featured prominently on the left front of the long-hitting Canadian golfer’s shirt.

LIV Golf has played two events so far with its third scheduled for July 29-31 at former President Donald Trump’s course in Bedminster, New Jersey.

Brian Baxter contributed to this report.

To contact the reporter on this story: Roy Strom in Chicago at rstrom@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com; John Hughes at jhughes@bloombergindustry.com