2

Apparently, (soon-former) US President Donald Trump's name appeared on the stimulus checks sent out last year.

I guess this is a late question to ask, but - how can this be legal? It makes it appears as though it is a personal gesture by Trump rather than a federal state action, which if anything is credited to the congress. Obviously it has a significant (and perhaps huge) effect on people's personal support for Trump as a candidate if "he sent them checks".

Is this kind of practice really not forbidden by some law or election-related regulation?

3
  • 1
    GW Bush did the same thing on his stimulus checks if I recall correctly. – JohnFx Jan 16 at 1:20
  • "It makes it appears as though it is a personal gesture by Trump rather than a federal state action, which if anything is credited to the congress": The check is from the US Treasury. The president's name appeared after the title "president." There's nothing to suggest that it was a personal payment. – phoog Jan 16 at 23:19
  • @phoog: Disagree. But suppose for the purposes of my question that this is suggested. – einpoklum Jan 16 at 23:21
3

It is common place for major official actions, not just checks but also, for example, governmental buildings, to note the politicians who implemented law or enacted them at the time. This practice is not forbidden by any law or election-related regulation.

There is a strong political norm as a matter of political etiquette that checks from the government be signed by a senior official in the Treasury department or a state and local equivalent, such as the Secretary of Treasury, the Comptroller of the Currency, or the Director of the Internal Revenue Service, rather than the President, Governor, or Mayor. But no one would have legal standing to challenge a violation of this political norm in court, because a person receiving a check naming the President as the signer has not suffered an actual injury.

4
  • 1. You wrote "there is a strong political norm etc." - so the Trump checks were an exception to this norm? 2. Isn't there legislation or regulation regarding the use of (federal) state money for personal political gain? Or what could be considered electioneering? – einpoklum Jan 16 at 9:46
  • 1
    @einpoklum, every politician stands to benefit, or suffer, from their political actions, thereby affecting their re-election prospects. It is not generally illegal for an elected official to "do their job" using government money. Congress has the option to pass a law if Congress is offended by a presidential action, which would then limit what future presidents can do. Until Congress passes a law, or SCOTUS rules that a politician's act violates a law, it's legal. – user6726 Jan 16 at 17:22
  • @user6726: So, how about putting huge banners with the president's portrait on the sides of public buildings constructed during their rule? Like this? Would that also be legal? – einpoklum Jan 16 at 18:14
  • 1
    Federal offices in the US very often have a portrait of the current US president. This is not mandated by law, but has been practices for over 100 years. The First Amendment does, however, prohibit compelling individuals to display patriotic / political banners. – user6726 Jan 16 at 18:49

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.