10.31.2010 0

Did the White House Authorize the Center for American Progress to Use the Presidential Seal?

  • On: 11/29/2010 10:04:57
  • In: Government Transparency
  • By Robert Romano

    ALG Editor’s Note: Read FOXNews.com’s coverage of this story here.

    Did White House Counsel Robert Bauer authorize the use of the presidential seal on the cover of the Center for American Progress November 2010 publication, “The Power of the President“?

    That’s what Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson wants to know. On November 24th, he wrote a letter to Mr. Bauer to ask.

    You see, the use of the seal is restricted under law, 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’s prominent use of the seal appeared on the cover of its November 2010 publication, “The Power of the President: Recommendations to Advance Progressive Change” located at http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/issues/2010/11/pdf/executive_orders.pdf.

    Given the nature of the publication, this raises a legitimate question: Does the Administration support the Center’s agenda?

    The paper advocated the use of executive orders and other regulations by the Obama Administration to advance its agenda after Democrats lost control of the House of Representatives in the November elections. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) carbon endangerment finding, which has already been implemented, will likely result in the EPA arbitrarily restricting energy consumption — all without any vote in Congress. Which is exactly what the Center argues for in its policy brief.

    So, is this what Obama plans on doing or not?

    Of course, White House Counsel Robert Bauer can clear all of that up. The American people have a right to know if the White House intends on implementing its agenda administratively.

    So, Mr. Bauer should answer our question.

    The Center’s use of the seal presents something of a dilemma, however. As Wilson explained, “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.”

    And if the Center was not authorized to use the seal, will Mr. Bauer send a cease and desist letter to the Center politely asking them to take it down? In 2005, the Bush White House requested the Onion stop using the seal when publishing parody weekly radio broadcasts of then-President George W. Bush. So, there is precedent for this law being enforced.

    Or, would this apparent violation of the law be prosecuted by Attorney General Eric Holder? According to the statute, violators “shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.” The executive branch is supposed to enforce the rule of law, applying it equally to all citizens. But we won’t be holding our breath.

    Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of Americans for Limited Government (ALG) News Bureau.

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