Trump Golf Courses Busted Illegally Using Presidential Seal – Trump Sons Face Prison
President Trump’s time on the back nine may be shifting to the rough after the Trump Organization allegedly ordered tee markers featuring the presidential seal for its golf courses.
According to ProPublica, Trump’s eponymous company ordered the presidential markers for its golf courses in the last few weeks. Unfortunately, federal law prohibits use of the presidential seal for anything outside official government use.
Eagle Sign and Design, based in Indiana and Kentucky, was hired to create dozens of 12-inch presidential seal markers to accompany each tee on Trump golf courses.
Owner Joseph E. Bates would not disclose the name of his client, but stated:
“We made the design, and the client confirmed the design.”
ProPublica reports viewing an Eagle Sign and Design order form listing “Trump International” as the client. Bates’ company also featured a photo album containing the presidential markers on Facebook at the time, entitled “Trump International Golf Course.” The photo album remains at this time, but all photos have been removed. The comments beneath the photo album, however, remain, as well.
Ultimately, with the litany of legal and moral offenses barreling down on President Trump every day, the criminal, federal offenses the Trump Organization could face for improperly using the presidential seal amounts to very little. Worst case scenario, the offense is punishable by as much as six months in prison. The likelihood of anyone on Trump’s team seeing the inside of a prison for the offense, however, is nonexistent. Neither Trump nor the Trump Organization offered ProPublica comment on the matter. Furthermore, the Defense Department would not confirm whether or not it was aware of the Trump Organization’s co-opting the presidential seal.
As small and light a matter as use of the presidential seal might seem, former presidents have set a precedent for taking use of the seal seriously. For example, former President George W. Bush ordered The Onion to remove the presidential seal from its site in 2005.
Former Bush ethics official Richard Painter stated that former presidents have put the presidential seal on anything from personal golf balls to M&Ms. However, the distinction with the Trump Organization’s use of the seal is that the seals are not for personal use. They are intended to be used by a private company, instead. Painter said:
“If we had heard of a private company using [the presidential seal] for commercial purposes, we would have sent them a nasty letter.”
In short, federal law prohibits use of the presidential seal for uses outside official government business, punishable by up to six months in prison. However, if one wants to use the presidential seal for any dumb old thing, one better be a former president to do it, and it better be for private use. Should an acting or former president wish to defy federal law and use the presidential seal for personal gain in a private company anyway–watch out! You just may receive a “nasty letter” and a six-month stint in prison that you’ll never serve.
What good is the law once money and power have circle-jerked long enough to render some immune to the penalties for breaking them? What is to stop the Trump Organization from doing as it pleases with the presidential seal? Legal fees and an angry letter won’t cut it. All this goes to show, once again, the true character of President Trump. Right or wrong, legal or illegal–if it benefits him and he can get away with it, Trump will do it, even if the action is criminal.
Featured image courtesy of Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images.