(STERLING, Va.) — A senior adviser to the super PAC backing Gov. Ron DeSantis for president participated Thursday in a LIV Golf tournament at Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia, along with the Florida governor’s 2024 rival, former President Donald Trump.
Phil Cox, who serves as a senior adviser to Never Back Down super PAC, and who also advised the governor during his successful 2020 reelection bid, teed off Thursday morning at the controversial Saudi-backed tournament, according to multiple sources and a schedule of the event obtained by ABC News.
Cox hit the links just a few hours after Trump’s own tee time earlier in the morning, sources told ABC News.
The Saudi-backed LIV Golf Tournament raised eyebrows when it launched last year, with critics calling it an example of “sportswashing,” the process by which a group will launder its reputation with professional sporting events.
Trump’s golf courses have hosted several LIV tournaments over the last year.
Cox’s appearance Thursday at the tournament on Trump’s property follows news that the consulting group GP3, of which Cox is a partner, recently clinched a deal with the Saudi-financed LIV tour.
Cox is one of the GP3 consultants who works on the LIV account, according to The New York Times.
Sources tell ABC News that the business relationship between Cox and the LIV tournament has begun to ruffle feathers among those close to the Florida governor.
“I’m an unpaid, volunteer adviser to Never Back Down and proud to support Governor DeSantis,” Cox said in a statement to ABC News.
Officials with Never Back Down super PAC did not respond to a request for comment from ABC News. A spokesperson for Never Back Down previously told The New York Times regarding Cox, “there is no conflict here with his outside businesses.”
Cox, a longtime Republican operative, previously served as executive director of the Republican Governors Association.
DeSantis’ presidential campaign officially kicked off Wednesday night with a live Twitter Spaces event that was marred by technical glitches and was subsequently mocked by Trump on his Truth Social platform.
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