Donald Trump seems to abuse the presidential seal to promote golf courses

Former POTUS Donald Trump may be violating federal law by using the presidential seal at one of his golf courses in Florida.

An image shared on Instagram in April shows the blue and silver seal sitting in the grass at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, with a caption next to the message explaining: “45th President 45 yards from hole on 18”.

The message does not mark the first time the presidential seal has appeared at a Trump-owned property; in 2018 a podcast by ProPublica and WNYC found similar markers that the Trump Organization at the time blamed on Republican fans.

In a 2018 statement quoted by Forbesthe company commented, “The plaques were presented to the club by a small group of members, who are incredible fans of the President, in honor of Presidents Day weekend.”

A purchase order obtained by the podcast indicated that the markers were purchased by “Trump International”, casting doubt on the company’s claims. At the time, a company named Eagle Sign and Design confirmed that it had received an order to create dozens of replica seals to place next to tee boxes at Trump’s courses.

Donald Trump visits the West Palm Beach course during his stay at Mar-a-Lago. Credit: Shutterstock

The Trump Organization further claimed the plaques were ‘temporary and have since been removed’, but the image of the seal shared in April indicates they are still being used in relation to the former president – a violation potential of federal law that stipulates the seal may not be used in any manner that might indicate government endorsement or sponsorship of private sector companies.

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The seal can only be used for official government business, and violations of this law could result in prison terms of up to six months.

Kathleen Clark, a University of Washington law professor who specializes in government and legal ethics, told the ProPublica podcast at the time that federal law was “an expression of the idea that government and governmental authority should not be used for private purposes”.

“It would be an abuse of government authority,” Clark said. Besides the seal itself, the law applies to its likeness, “or any facsimile thereof”.

The West Palm Beach golf course, which is the former president’s favorite haunt while residing at his nearby Mar-a-Lago resort, is the fourth to use the seal following similar incidents in the Bronx, New Jersey and Jupiter, Florida.

UNILAD has contacted the Trump Organization for comment.

Michael C. Ford