The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute has demanded that President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee stop using the 40th president’s image and name for fundraising.
The complaint involved a fundraising email that offered commemorative coins featuring the late president and Donald Trump, implying an important link between the men.
“We own the likeness of President Reagan and they used his image for a coin without our consent,” Melissa Giller, chief marketing officer for the foundation, told The Hill. “We called the RNC and asked them to cease and desist the use of President Reagan on the coin, and they agreed.”
Foundation officials were moved to action after a Trump fundraising email went out last week with the subject line, “Ronald Reagan and Yours Truly.”
In exchange for a $45 donation, contributors were promised a “limited edition” set of coins, one with an image of Reagan and another of Trump. They were mounted with a 1987 photograph of Reagan and Trump shaking hands in a standard White House receiving line, according to the Washington Post.
The coins symbolize an “important time in our Nation,” the email said. “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.”
Proceeds were to go to the Trump Make America Great Again Committee, a joint fundraising operation of the Trump campaign and the RNC.
Foundation officials are attempting to determine how many coins may already have been distributed, and are still considering how to address the suggested association between the presidents.
The coins were still being offered to donors late Saturday.
The Reagan Foundation, which runs the Reagan Presidential Library near Los Angeles, has the sole rights to Nancy and Ronald Reagan’s names, likenesses and images. Officials claim they have the power to block the use of images in the public domain from being used for commercial gain and political endorsements.
Ahrens said the committee believes the use of Reagan’s image was “appropriate” but added, “We will stop emailing this fundraising solicitation as a courtesy.”
Earlier this month, the Republican Voters Against Trump group used excerpts from Reagan’s “A Vision For America” speech to make a case against Trump. Reagan’s words were juxtaposed with recent news footage to create a damning indictment of the Trump presidency. (Check out the video up top.)
In May, the “never Trump” Republican Lincoln Project also used excerpts from Reagan’s hopeful 1984 reelection ad “Morning in America” to contrast against what it characterized as “Mourning in America” under Trump.