News & Politics

Trump's Tacky Effort to Monetize the Presidency at His Golf Course May Be Illegal

The president continues his efforts to enrich himself through public office.

Photo Credit: Yuki Shimazu via Trump National Golf Club

In yet another shameless display of President Donald Trump mixing business with his presidency, the Trump Organization is ordering golf tee markers printed with the U.S. presidential seal, according to ProPublica.

This is more than a display of really bad taste; it may violate federal law.

Walter Shaub, former director of the Office of Government Ethics and a frequent Trump critic, pointed to the section of U.S. law that would appear to render this commercialization of the presidential seal illegal:

Some argued that Trump may have the right to use the seal in this way because as president, he can give his business the authority to use the presidential seal. 

Shaub dismissed this argument, saying: "By this logic, no government official could ever misuse his position. It’s beyond ridiculous to say that the government sponsors or approves of an individual commercial business."

The ProPublica report concurred with Shaub's side of the argument.

"Ethics experts have long been on the lookout for signs that the Trump Organization would exploit the office of the presidency for commercial gain," it said. "Several said that using the presidential seal on the company’s golf courses would fall into this category."

Regardless of the legal conclusions or consequences, the move would represent another step Trump has taken to monetize the presidency.

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Cody Fenwick is a reporter and editor. Follow him on Twitter @codytfenwick.