Is PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan a “Climate Criminal”?

Monahan is required by the Tour to travel by private jet for both business and pleasure, according to a "Wall Street Journal" report

PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan watches the BMW PGA Championship in England. A new "Wall Street Journal" report looks at his private plane use.
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan does not fly commercial.
Richard Heathcote/Getty

Similar to so-called “climate criminals” such as Taylor Swift, Drake and Kylie Jenner, PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monahan is a frequent flyer on private jets. But while celebrities like Swift, Drake and Jenner fly private by choice, Monahan flies the friendly skies in a private jet because he is required to do so by the PGA Tour.

Per a new report in The Wall Street Journal, Monahan is mandated to use a Tour-owned Citation X jet for both business and personal air travel because it provides the “necessary level of efficiency, privacy, and security.”

Monahan, who became Tour commissioner in early 2017, has used the jet to travel to locations including Colorado, Montana, Nantucket, St. Lucia, Turks and Caicos, Georgia, the PGA’s headquarters in Florida, and a college town where one of his children attends school.

Per the PGA, Monahan’s personal use of the jet is included as income to the commissioner on the Tour’s annual tax filing. (Monahan’s 2020 earnings totaled $14.2 million.) The filing also, confusingly, states that the PGA’s top executives “may utilize charter or first-class travel for business” trips in “limited cases.” Clearly the Tour’s definition of “limited cases” does not come from Webster’s given the way that Monahan has been using the Citation X jet.

“Given that the organization mandates the use of chartered jets for personal travel, the disclosure on the 990 (tax filing) is at best misleading and at worst intentionally inaccurate,” Elizabeth Kingsley, a Washington lawyer who advises nonprofit organizations, told The Journal.

Already engaging in a PR war with LIV Golf where money and how it is being spent plays a factor, the PGA Tour can’t be happy that Monahan’s travel habits are being scrutinized. “The PGA Tour Policy Board maintains close oversight of the utilization of the corporate plane, and all use is completely approved and appropriate,” per a Tour statement to Golf Digest. “The tour’s Form 990 is routinely reviewed by our outside 501c6 organization specialists and we are compliant with all disclosure requirements.”

The same way Monahan is compliant with his workplace’s requirement that he fly private for work and play.

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