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Can the Center for American Progress Really Use the Presidential Seal in Self-Promotion?

November 27, 2010

Americans for Limited Government is calling on the U.S. Justice Department to take action against a liberal think tank for using seal of the American President on a new policy publication.

The conservative interest group claims the use of the official seal is restricted under law and may not be used 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.” Fox News also reports:

The law allows exceptions for educational and historical uses as well as limited usage by news media. The White House counsel can also grant an exception under an executive order.

Bill Wilson, president of Americans for Limited Government, reportedly sent a letter to White House counsel Bob Bauer asking if the Obama administration had granted a special exception for CAP’s “The Power of the President: Recommendations to Advance Progressive Change,”  a policy publication which offers suggestions for President Obama to pursue the progressive agenda through executive orders in lieu of legislative initiatives.

“The Center for American Progress’ use of the seal appears to indicate presidential endorsement of its agenda,” Wilson said in a statement. “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,” he said. “If it did not, then it would appear to be a violation of the law by the Center for American Progress.”

The Center for American Progress has since responded, claiming the organization purchased a photograph of the seal from the Associated Press, offering no further clarification on its use of the seal on its publication.

In response, Manning said, “They’re admitting they did not get permission.  So the operating question is: Is the White House going to take action to protect the seal because it violates the statute?” he said.

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