When John Feal talks about September 11 and the families torn apart by that horrific act of terror, people listen. For nearly 20 years, his “FealGood Foundation” has been fighting for healthcare funding for the first responders.

“9/11 is one of the few causes left that most Americans see as sacred,” Feal says. “The cause has taken a couple of dents, but it hasn’t been tarnished.”

Now some fear the “sacred” cause is being dragged into a petty battle between millionaires over money.

The organization 9/11 Justice is planning protests at Trump National Golf Course in Bedminster targeting the LIV Golf event scheduled for this weekend. The much-debated tour is backed by the Public Investment Fund, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund. Brett Eagleson, whose father died in the World Trade Center attack, is president of 9/11 Justice. He says his organization represents families still outraged that Saudi Arabia has never been held to account for its role in 9/11. It is an issue many families have spoken out about for years.

But not Eagleson. When he showed up in Portland, Ore. on June 30 to protest a LIV tournament at the Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club, his organization had only been in existence for three days.

Aside from the Portland press conference and the group’s pledge to protest at every LIV Golf tournament, the only other activity that 9/11 Justice has engaged in to date is running what appears to be a six-figure buy of political-style ads on local and cable broadcast stations in Oregon during the LIV event.

They were placed by Media Ad Ventures, a political buying company with ties to the GOP.

Where did this brand-new organization get the money for hard-hitting TV ads, clearly produced in advance and targeting these pro golfers, on such short notice? And who starts a charity 20 years after the original event?

Feal, whose organization was officially created in 2007, told InsideSources he was n0t familiar with Eagleson and his efforts. Other sources in the 9/11 advocacy community said the same. As a 501 (c) organization, it will eventually have to disclose its donors. However, the group is so new no numbers are available yet. Eagleson did not respond to requests for comment.

But experts in politics and marketing know where they would start looking: The PGA.

“The more I see the PGA pouring a ton of money into lobbying, the more I think that it absolutely looks like a desperate astroturf campaign using politics to monopolize golf,” said attorney Gene Berardelli, author of “Schnooks, Crooks, Liars, and Scoundrels: A Field Guide to Identifying Political Buffoons.”

It is no secret the PGA has declared war on the LIV tour and the players who have joined it. At least 17 have been banned from PGA play by Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan. His announcement of the bans included a clear warning to the rest of the Tour players: “The same fate holds for any other players who participate in future Saudi Golf League events in violation of our regulations.”

The PGA declined to answer questions about any relationship with 9/11 Justice. But Monahan has echoed some of its rhetoric in his own attacks on the new league. 

“As it related to the families of 9/11, my heart goes out to them,” Monahan told CBS Sports. “I would ask any player that has left…have you ever had to apologize for being a member of the PGA Tour?”

It is a powerful message, supporters of the LIV Tour agree. But they also note the PGA—nominally a charitable—has done very little over the years for the 9/11 cause. From 2014 to 2018, the PGA Tour made just one contribution to all 9/11-related charities, a grant of $6,250 in 2016 to the Farmingdale Community Summit Council, Inc.

Now there is a new charity incorporated in Delaware (not New York, interestingly) that is leading an attack on a golf tour that just happens to be a threat to the PGA’s monopoly on the professional golf industry.

Former President Donald Trump, who is hosting two LIV events at his clubs (the other is at the Doral in Miami) issued a social media statement last week urging pros to join the new venture. He predicted the two tours would eventually merge and warned, “If you don’t take the money now, you will get nothing after the merger takes place, and only say how smart the original signees were.”

According to Politico, a Trump representative called Eagleson to express sympathy for the 9/11 families and their loss. Eagleson, who is planning a press conference at the Bedminster club on Friday when the event begins, rejected the outreach.

“If it’s so important [to Trump] why didn’t he call himself?”

Mark Simone, a top-ranked radio talk host on WOR in New York City, has tremendous sympathy for those hurt on 9/11 but said he also sees a political backdrop that cannot be ignored.

“The PGA used to love Donald Trump. Then came January 6, and they canceled their contracts and boycotted him. There’s a lot of politics here,” Simone said.

Asked about the PGA and its motives, Simone shrugged. “It’s a monopoly for millionaires. They’re [the PGA] in it for the money.”

The PGA is currently under investigation by the Department of Justice for potential antitrust violations regarding its treatment of the players who have gone to the LIV tournament. And in Congress, legislation has been filed to take away the PGA’s special “non-profit” status that allows it to evade some federal taxes.

“The PGA Tour in 2019 took in $1.5 billion in revenues and paid out $110 million in salaries and wages to its own officials and hundreds of millions more to players,” wrote Rep. U.S. Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.), author of the legislation. “The Tour ended up with a profit of more than $250 million from 2016 to 2019–and if it were considered a normal company, it would have paid about $80 million in federal corporate taxes.”

With so much money at stake, and its monopoly over professional golf at risk, would the PGA see an opportunity to pair the very real passion of 9/11 families with its self-interest?

Feal said he supports the 9/11 families and their opposition to the LIV tournament. He does not believe golfers should join a league funded by the Saudis. At the same time, “We need to keep the 9/11 cause untarnished.”