- Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
- The Trump Organization ordered tee markers featuring the presidential seal.
- That may prove to be illegal if the seals are used on Trump’s golf courses.
- Federal law forbids the seal be used for anything other than official government business.
The Trump Organization could be in hot legal water after ordering markers for its golf courses that feature the presidential seal, ProPublica reported Monday.
President Donald Trump’s namesake company ordered the new tee markers, complete with the presidential seal, in recent weeks. Federal law forbids the seal be used for anything other than official government business.
Eagle Sign and Design, which has offices in Indiana and Kentucky, told ProPublica that it received an order for dozens of 12-inch replicas of the presidential seal to be placed next to tee boxes at Trump courses.
“We made the design, and the client confirmed the design,” Joseph E. Bates, who owns the company, told ProPublica, declining to name the client.
ProPublica reviewed an order form that said the customer was “Trump International.” At the same time, the company’s Facebook page showed the markers in an album titled “Trump International Golf Course.”
The law governing use of the seal comes with a criminal offense punishable by up to six months in prison. The Trump administration and Trump Organization declined to comment to ProPublica, while the Department of Justice declined to say whether it had any awareness that the seal was being used outside the government.
As ProPublica noted, past administrations were strict in their policing of the seal’s usage. In 2005, former President George W. Bush’s administration ordered the satirical news site “The Onion” to remove a replica of the presidential seal.
Past presidents had used the seal on personal golf balls, presidential china, M&Ms, and jelly beans. But the difference this time is that a private company is using the seal, former Bush ethics official Richard Painter told ProPublica.
“If we had heard of a private company using it for commercial purposes, we would have sent them a nasty letter,” he said.