November 24th, 2010, Fairfax, VA—Americans for Limited Government (ALG) President Bill Wilson today asked White House Counsel Robert Bauer if he granted an exception to the Center for American Progress in its recent use of the Seal of the President of the United States in a policy publication.
The use of the seal is restricted under law (TITLE 18, PART I,CHAPTER 33, § 713 of the U.S. Code), which prohibits reproduction of the seal for “the purpose of conveying, or in a manner reasonably calculated to convey, a false impression of sponsorship or approval by the Government of the United States”.
Exceptions have been outlined via executive order for educational and historical uses as well as limited uses by news media. Under Executive Order 11649, further exceptions can also be granted by the White House Counsel.
In his letter, Wilson wrote, “As you are well aware, the rationale for restricting the use of the Seal is to prevent any suggestion of presidential support or endorsement of third-party messages. However, as exceptions are provided for pursuant to Executive Order 11649, we would like to know if such an exception has been granted in this case.”
The Center for American Progress prominently used the seal on the cover of its November 2010 publication, “The Power of the President: Recommendations to Advance Progressive Change” at http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/issues/2010/11/pdf/executive_orders.pdf .
The paper advocated the use of executive orders by the Obama Administration to advance its agenda after Democrats lost control of the House of Representatives in the November elections.
Wilson explained in a statement, saying, “The Center for American Progress use of the seal appears to indicate presidential endorsement of its agenda. The question is whether the White House granted an exception in this case or not. If it did, that would appear to be a stretch beyond the intent of the law and the order, in which exceptions are supposed to be provided for educational, historical, and news purposes. If it did not, then it would appear to be a violation of the law by the Center for American Progress.”