Trump Organization removes copies of presidential seals from golf course after reports they may be illegal

The Trump Organization announced the move after a ProPublica report.

March 6, 2018, 12:43 PM

The Trump Organization says it has removed replicas of the presidential seal from one of its golf courses a day after a report that the private company's use of the seal could be illegal.

“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. They were temporary and have since been removed,” a Trump Organization spokesperson said in a statement.

President Donald Trump was at Mar-a-Lago, his club in Palm Beach, Fla., over the Presidents Day weekend.

Donald Trump boards Air Force One as he departs for West Palm Beach, Fla., from Joint Base Andrews, Md., on Feb. 16, 2018.
Eric Thayer/Reuters

ProPublica first reported that the Trump Organization ordered dozens of replicas of the official presidential seal from the Indiana-based company Eagle Sign & Design to use as tee markers on the Trump International Golf Course in Palm Beach.

Eagle Sign & Design declined to comment on the report Monday.

It is illegal to use the presidential seal for any purpose that implies the endorsement of the federal government, according to federal law. The relevant statute says that anyone who manufactures or sells replicas without approval can be subject to fines or up to six months in prison.

The Presidential Seal on the podium, March 24, 2006, in Washington.

The spokesman for a government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington said that even if the replica seals were only used for one weekend it's still illegal for a private company to manufacture and use the seal for its own purposes.

"There does not appear to be any legal interpretation that says it's okay to violate the law if it's only for a holiday weekend. If anything, it raises more questions as to whether they knew they were violating the law, so intentionally tried to do it for a short time to see if it would get noticed," CREW communications director Jordan Libowitz said in a statement.

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