President Donald Trump loves putting his name on everything through ties to steaks to water — as well as, of course, his buildings. nevertheless right now the Trump Organization appears to be borrowing a brand even more powerful than the gilded Trump moniker: the presidential seal.
In recent weeks, the Trump Organization has ordered the manufacture of brand-new tee markers for golf courses in which are emblazoned with the seal of the President of the United States. Under federal law, the seal’s use is actually permitted only for official government business. Misuse can be a crime.
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Past administrations have policed usage vigilantly. In 2005 the Bush administration ordered the satirical news website The Onion to remove a replica of the seal. Grant M. Dixton, associate White House counsel, wrote in a letter to The Onion in which the seal “is actually not to be used in connection with commercial ventures or products in any way in which suggests presidential support or endorsement.”
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After listening to the brand-new ProPublica/WNYC podcast “Trump, Inc.,” a listener brought the signs to our attention.
Eagle Sign as well as Design, a metalworking as well as sign company with offices in brand-new Albany, Indiana, as well as Louisville, Kentucky, said the idea had received an order to manufacture dozens of round, 12-inch replicas of the presidential seal to be placed next to the tee boxes at Trump golf course holes. Two tee markers are placed on the ground at the start of a hole on golf courses to indicate where golfers should stand to take their first swing.
“We made the design, as well as the client confirmed the design,” said Joseph E. Bates, who owns Eagle Sign, declining to say who the client was.
An order form for the tee markers reviewed by ProPublica as well as WNYC says the customer was “Trump International.” The Facebook page for Eagle Sign as well as Design shows a photo of the markers in an album with the caption “Trump International Golf Course.”
the idea is actually unclear how many Trump International golf courses will feature the markers. The Trump Organization owns four courses with the “International” name within the U.S. as well as abroad, using a fifth course in Bali, Indonesia, within the works.
Eagle Sign makes a wide array of tee markers out of bronze as well as aluminum, as well as has made various other signs for Trump’s courses, according to its website. At some of Trump’s golf courses, tee markers have sported the Trump family crest, which he took through the family in which originally owned Mar-a-Lago without permission as well as then altered by adding his own name.
Ethics experts have long been on the lookout for signs in which the Trump Organization could exploit the office of the presidency for commercial gain. Several said in which using the presidential seal on the company’s golf courses could fall into in which category.
A law governs the manufacture or use of the seal, its likeness, “or any facsimile thereof” for anything various other than official U.S. government business. the idea can be a criminal offense punishable by up to six months in prison.
The “law is actually an expression of the idea in which the government as well as government authority should not be used for private purpose,” said Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University specializing in government as well as legal ethics said. “the idea could be a misuse of government authority.”
The Department of Justice declined to comment on whether the idea was aware the seal had been used by entities outside the government. The White House as well as the Trump Organization did not respond to request for comment.
The presidential seal was first sketched out by President Millard Fillmore in 1850 as well as the current design — which shows a bald eagle with an olive branch in its right talon, a bundle of 13 arrows within the left, as well as a scroll bearing the words “E pluribus unum” in its beak — was chosen by President Truman as well as made official in a 1945 executive order.
The seal in which adorns the president’s speaking lecterns is actually handmade by the Institute of Heraldry, a department of the Army located at Fort Belvoir in Virginia in which designs as well as provides guidance related to military as well as governmental symbols.
Versions of the seal have occasionally been put to personal use by past presidents. George W. Bush as well as Barack Obama had custom sets of golf balls made with the seal. Ronald as well as Nancy Reagan had a set of presidential china bearing the seal, as well as there have even been M&M’s as well as jelly beans in which featured the seal.
In in which case, the difference is actually in which a private company is actually using the seal, said Richard Painter, vice chairman of Citizens for Responsibility as well as Ethics in Washington, a government accountability group. Painter also served as an associate White House counsel during the George W. Bush administration.
“If we had heard of a private company using the idea for commercial purposes, we could have sent them a nasty letter,” he said.
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