Donald Trump is using the presidential seal on a fourth golf course to help improve his business in what could be a violation of the law, Forbes reports.
An Instagram post recently featured a photo of the seal, with the official blue and silver circular design, being used as the tee marker at Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach. The Instagram caption reads: “45th President 45 yards from hole on 18.”
It is illegal to use the presidential seal in any way that could create the appearance that the government endorses or sponsors a private company. Violations can result in prison terms of up to six months. Seals may only be used for official government business.
The course is the fourth Trump property to use the seal in possible violation of the law, according to Forbes. Presidential seals were also used during his courses in the Bronx, New Jersey and in Jupiter, Florida.
A 2018 podcast produced by ProPublica and WNYC reported “dozens” of markers similar to those recently used in Trump courses. At the time, the Trump Organization blamed the markers on superfans and quickly got rid of them when the story emerged.
“The plaques were presented to the club by a small group of members, who are incredible fans of the President, in honor of President’s Day weekend. They were temporary and have since been removed,” a statement read. press release from the Trump Organization.
But the podcast had obtained an order form for the markers, listing them as being purchased by “Trump International”.
The law regarding the use of the presidential seal is an “expression of the idea that government and governmental authority should not be used for private gain,” said University of Washington law professor Kathleen Clark. specializing in government and legal ethics, at ProPublica. time. “It would be an abuse of government authority.”
Trump has used his office in several ways to improve his private businesses.
Lobbyists, lawmakers and foreign nations often booked rooms and threw lavish parties while he was president of his Trump International hotel in Washington, DC, ostensibly to curry favor with him.
He also charged the Secret Service at least $2 million to stay in rooms and eat at his properties. And he has gone out of his way to travel to his foreign golf courses with a large entourage – at taxpayers’ expense – to highlight the properties in international news stories.
The Trump Organization could not immediately be reached for comment.