Donald Trump and the Trump Organization are once again pushing the boundaries between Trump’s presidency and his private, for-profit business. It’s not enough that he has spent an astonishing 100 days at four private golf clubs he owns since becoming president, now they apparently want the courses marked with the presidential seal. From ProPublica:
Eagle Sign and Design, a metalworking and sign company with offices in New Albany, Indiana, and Louisville, Kentucky, said it 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. […]
An order form for the tee markers reviewed by ProPublica and WNYC says the customer was “Trump International.” The Facebook page for Eagle Sign and Design shows a photo of the markers in an album with the caption “Trump International Golf Course.”
As Walter Shaub, the former Director of the Office of Government Ethics notes, this could be a crime, punishable by up to six months in prison.
Ã¢ÂÂWhoever knowingly displays any printed…likeness of the…seals of the President…in…any advertisement…or on any building… in a manner reasonably calculated to convey…approval by the Government…shall be fined…or imprisoned not more than six monthsÃ¢ÂÂ 18 U.S.C. ÃÂ§ 713 https://t.co/LIlh3skh34
Ã¢ÂÂ Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) March 5, 2018
Shaub isn’t the only expert saying this is potentially an illegal use of the seal.
The “law is an expression of the idea that the government and government authority should not be used for private purpose,” said Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University specializing in government and legal ethics said. “It would be a misuse of government authority.”
WNYC and ProPublica have a podcast and it was a listener who tipped them off to this order, providing images of the tee markers being made. You can listen to the podcast discussion of the ethical and potential legal implications below.