An Instagram post recently featured a photo of the seal, with the official circular, blue-and-silver design, being used as a tee marker at the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach. The Instagram caption reads: “45th President 45 yards from hole on 18.”
It’s against the law to use the presidential seal in a way that could convey the impression of government approval or sponsorship of a private business. Violations can result in prison sentences of up to six months. The seal can 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 have also been used at his courses in the Bronx, New Jersey and in Jupiter, Florida.
A 2018 podcast produced by ProPublica and WNYC reported “dozens” of the markers similar to those seen recently being used at Trump courses. At the time, the Trump Organization blamed the markers on super fans, 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,” said a statement 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 concerning use of the presidential seal is an “expression of the idea that the government and government authority should not be used for private purpose,” Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University specializing in government and legal ethics, told ProPublica at the time. “It would be a misuse of government authority.”
Trump has used his office in several ways to enhance his private businesses.
He has also charged the Secret Service at least $2 million to stay in rooms and eat food at his properties. And he has gone out of his way to travel to his foreign golf courses with a large entourage — at taxpayer expense — to highlight the properties in international news stories.
The Trump Organization could not immediately be reached for comment.