The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute has called on President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee to stop using the late president’s image for fundraising efforts. The request came after Trump’s campaign sent out a fundraising email purportedly to the president’s top supporters that said those who donated $45 or more would receive a “limited edition” commemorative set of two gold-colored coins with images of Trump and Reagan. The coins were mounted on a 1987 photograph of Reagan and Trump shaking hands in a White House receiving line. The email went out on July 19, according to the Washington Post’s Karen Tumulty, who was first to report the story. But it seems the coins had been offered to donors even earlier, as someone on Twitter posted a copy of a fundraising email on May 19 that offered the same commemorative coins to donors.
The email, which was sent with the subject line “Ronald Reagan and Yours Truly,” had Trump as the sender. “Friend,” the email reads, “I just saw our new Trump-Reagan Commemorative Coin Sets and WOW, these coins are beautiful—I took one look and immediately knew that I wanted YOU to have a set. These aren’t any ordinary coins. They symbolize an important time in our Nation. This year, in addition to being re-elected as YOUR President, it also marks the 40th anniversary of our Nation’s 40th President, Ronald Reagan. Unfortunately, we already sold out of the first batch we had in stock. But I liked these coins so much that I asked my team to rush order another batch for my TOP SUPPORTERS ONLY.” Proceeds from the sale went to the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, which supports both the RNC and the Trump campaign. Trump has said Reagan was his favorite president.
Reagan Presidential Foundation chief marketing officer Melissa Giller said that when foundation officials heard about the coins they decided “within seconds” to put a stop to it, saying the issue was “simply handled with a phone call.” In a statement to the Hill, Giller confirmed the request as well. “We own the likeness of President Reagan and they used his image for the coin without our consent. We called the RNC and asked them to cease and desist the use of Pres Reagan on the coin and they agreed,” Giller said. Despite that assurance, the coin still appeared to be for sale. For now, the foundation says it is looking at how many coins were sold and cautioned it could still take some sort of legal action.
The RNC seemed a bit taken aback by the request. Reagan’s “likeness is used by thousands of Republicans each year who gather around the country for ‘Reagan Dinners,’ and his library regularly hosts debates for our presidential candidates,” Michael Ahrens, RNC communications director, said in a statement. “Given that the Reagan Foundation just recently hosted the Trump family to raise money for its organization and has not objected to us using President Reagan’s likeness before, their objection came as a surprise. Even though we believe our use of the image was appropriate, we will stop emailing this fundraising solicitation as a courtesy.”
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