2020-07-26 03:53:17 UTC
The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute, which runs the 40th
presidents library near Los Angeles, has demanded that President Trump and the
Republican National Committee (RNC) quit raising campaign money by using Ronald
Reagans name and likeness.
It was simply handled with a phone call mid-last week to the RNC, and they
agreed to stop, Reagan Foundation chief marketing officer Melissa Giller said
in an email Saturday.
What came to the foundations attention and compelled officials there to
complain was a fundraising email that went out July 19 with Donald J. Trump
identified as the sender and a subject line that read: Ronald Reagan and Yours
The solicitation offered, for a donation of $45 or more, a limited edition
commemorative set featuring two gold-colored coins, one each with an image of
Reagan and Trump. The coins were mounted with a 1987 photograph of Reagan and
Trump shaking hands in a White House receiving line the type of fleeting
contact that presidents have with thousands of people a year.
Friend, the fundraising email purportedly from Trump said, I just saw our new
Trump-Reagan Commemorative Coin Sets and WOW, these coins are beautiful - I took
one look and immediately knew that I wanted YOU to have a set. These arent any
ordinary coins. They symbolize an important time in our Nation. This year, in
addition to being re-elected as YOUR President, it also marks the 40th
anniversary of our Nations 40th President, Ronald Reagan. Unfortunately, we
already sold out of the first batch we had in stock. But I liked these coins so
much that I asked my team to rush order another batch for my TOP SUPPORTERS
It cautioned: Ive authorized a very limited production of these iconic coins,
which is why Im ONLY offering them to our top supporters, like YOU. This offer
is NOT available to the general public, so please, do NOT share this email with
Proceeds from the coin sales went to the Trump Make America Great Again
Committee, a joint fundraising operation that benefits both the Trump campaign
and the RNC.
The joint committee website, where the coins were for sale, noted: The
President only authorized the production of 5,000 sets of these iconic coins,
which is why were ONLY offering them to our TOP supporters.
In the 1990s, both Reagan and his wife Nancy signed legal documents that granted
the foundation sole rights to their names, likenesses and images. Of course,
there are countless photos and videos of Reagan that are in the public domain.
But the foundation claims power to block them from being used for commercial
purposes and political endorsements. When Reagan Foundation officials were made
aware of the Trump email solicitation, they decided within seconds to put a
stop to it, said Giller.
Athough the RNC accepted the foundations demand regarding the fundraising
emails, we still have a lot of additional work, Giller said. The foundation is
looking into how many people might have seen the email and how many of the coin
sets were sold, and may still decide to get lawyers involved, she added.
Frederick J. Ryan Jr., who chairs the Reagan Foundation board, is also publisher
and CEO of The Washington Post. He declined to offer a comment for this column.
This isnt the first time the 45th president has traded on the name or likeness
of the 40th, who is revered among conservatives, for his own purposes. In July
2019, he shared as Cute! a fake quote by Reagan that was making its way around
social media. According to the apocryphal story, Reagan upon meeting Trump
supposedly said: For the life of me, and Ill never know how to explain it,
when I met that young man, I felt like I was the one shaking hands with the
Trump continued to spread the made-up quote, even though Joanne Drake, the chief
administrative officer of the Reagan Foundation, had already told the
fact-checking website PolitiFact that Reagan did not ever say that about Donald
Relations between the Trump family and the Reagan Foundation have generally been
cordial. Last November, Donald Trump Jr. appeared for a lecture and book-signing
at the Reagan Library, for which the foundation charged admission. The event
President Reagan was a proud Republican and supporter of a party that has
carried on his fight for conservative principles of economic opportunity and
limited government. His likeness is used by thousands of Republicans each year
who gather around the country for Reagan Dinners, and his library regularly
hosts debates for our presidential candidates," RNC communications director
Michael Ahrens said in an emailed statement. "Given that the Reagan Foundation
just recently hosted the Trump family to raise money for its organization and
has not objected to us using President Reagans likeness before, their objection
came as a surprise. Even though we believe our use of the image was appropriate,
we will stop emailing this fundraising solicitation as a courtesy.
As of Saturday afternoon, it appeared that the coin sets were still available on
the joint fundraising committee website.
Nancy Reagan, who died in 2016, was leery of those who invoked her husbands
name, even in efforts to pay tribute to him. In 2003, for instance, she publicly
opposed a push by conservative House Republicans to replace Franklin D.
Roosevelts profile on the dime with an image of Reagan, who by then was nearing
the end of his battle with Alzheimers disease.
While I can understand the intentions of those seeking to place my husbands
face on the dime, I do not support this proposal and I am certain Ronnie would
not, the former first lady said. When our country chooses to honor a great
president such as Franklin Roosevelt by placing his likeness on our currency, it
would be wrong to remove him and replace him with another.
Nancy Reagan understood that a presidents place in history is precious, unique
and vulnerable to the opportunism of those who claim to follow in his footsteps.
It is not hard to imagine what she would have thought of the iconic coins that
Trump has been hawking.