In what would likely amount to an illegal exploitation of the office of the presidency, the Trump Organization appears to have ordered replicas of the official presidential seal to be placed on Trump golf courses, according to a new report from ProPublica.
The Trump Organization placed orders sometime in the past few weeks for new tee markers sporting the seal, according to the report. Doing so would not only be an ethical violation by the president’s company—it could be illegal. A federal law prohibits anyone from using the seal for anything other than official government business.
ProPublica reported that a company called Eagle Sign and Design received an order to make dozens of the 12-inch replicas of the seal. It did not say who the client was who ordered the seals, but ProPublica reviewed an order form for the markers that listed the customer as Trump International. On its Facebook page, the company also reportedly posted a photo of the markers with the caption “Trump International Golf Course” in an album called “Presidential Seal”—an album that has since been cleared.
While presidents have used versions of the seal for their own personal use—ProPublica mentions custom golf balls for George W. Bush and Barack Obama, for example—private companies have not done so in the past. The law that protects the seal “or any facsimile thereof” to “convey a false impression of sponsorship or approval by the Government of the United States” makes its abuse a criminal offense that can be punished by a fine and up to six months in prison.