Trump May Have Violated the Law By Reportedly Putting Presidential Seal on Golf Tee Markers

President Donald Trump recently combined two of his favorite activities—playing golf and putting his mark on things—by ordering dozens of golf tee markers with the presidential seal of the United States on them, ProPublica reported Monday.

But putting the presidential seal on tees holds more legal weight than selling hats with “Make America Great Again” on them—in fact, it might be illegal.

Federal law states that the seal of the president can only be used for official government affairs, ProPublica reports, and using the seal incorrectly could carry the penalty of up to six months in jail, The Hill reported Monday.

3_5_Trump_Golf President Donald Trump is pictured in West Palm Beach, Florida, at Trump International Golf Club in December 2017. For this event, Trump invited U.S. Coast Guard members to play golf. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Eagle Sign and Design, the sign and metalworking company ordered to create the tee markers, would not disclose to ProPublica who had placed the order. However, ProPublica and WNYC saw an order form that listed the customer as “Trump International.” Trump's family business being run by his sons Eric and Donald Jr. while he serves as president.

Former presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush both put the presidential seal on specially made golf balls, and Ronald Reagan owned a set of china that bore the seal, the New York Post reported. But what makes Trump’s tee markers different is that the seal is being used by a private company, according to Richard Painter, who serves as vice chairman of the government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, the New York Post reported.

Kathleen Clark, a Washington University law professor who specializes in government and legal ethics, described this law as “an expression of the idea that the government and government authority should not be used for private purpose,” the New York Post reported. Clark added that violation of this law would be “a misuse of government authority.”

Eagle Sign and Design has manufactured other signs that have appeared on Trump’s courses, its website shows according to ProPublica.

3_5_Trump_Presidents_Cup After the U.S. golf team beat the international team in the Presidents Cup at Liberty National Golf Club, Trump presented the winners with a trophy in Jersey City, New Jersey, in October 2017. Trump plays golf himself, and reportedly recently ordered golf tee markers that have the presidential seal on them. Elsa/Getty Images

When popular satirical news source The Onion put the seal on its website in 2005, President George W. Bush’s administration ordered them to remove it. Associate White House Counsel Grant M. Dixon wrote a letter to The Onion on how severe he felt the offense was, The New York Times reported at the time.

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