“Office of the President Elect” seal violates 18 USC Sec. 713??

I recall from a few months ago that there was much concern in the conservative blogosphere over the Obama campaign seal.  I understood what the campaign was trying to do – they wanted the people to get used to the idea that Obama could be president.  Of course, The Weekly Standard opined that this seal was somehow a misappropriation of the seal of the President of the United States, and thus, a violation of 18 USC Sec. 713.  In actuality, it was simply a stylized seal.

The same cannot be said for the seal of the “Office of the President Elect”, pictured in the image below:

According to 18 USC Sec. 713:

18 USC Sec. 713 …
(a) Whoever knowingly displays any printed or other likeness of the great seal of the United States, or of the seals of the President or the Vice President of the United States, or the seal of the United States Senate, or the seal of the United States House of Representatives, or the seal of the United States Congress, or any facsimile thereof, in, or in connection with, any advertisement, poster, circular, book, pamphlet, or other publication, public meeting, play, motion picture, telecast, or other production, or on any building, monument, or stationery, 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 or by any department, agency, or instrumentality thereof, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than six months, or both.

Looking at that seal, and the logo present on the change.gov non-government web site, it is clear that the seal presented is actually the Great Seal of the United States.  Take a look at the images below.

The seal on top is from the non-governmental “Office of the President Elect”, the image in the middle is from the Great Seal of the United States, and the bottom image is an overlay of the two.  It’s pretty clear that they are simply using the the Great Seal as their logo.  The important distinction between this “seal” and the earlier campaign seal, is that rather than use a stylized seal, this one uses the exact image from the Great Seal.

As a singular offense, this may not be significant (though still punishable under the law).  However, the use of an official government seal in concert with an official sounding, yet fictitious ”Office” and the .gov domain name, it’s clear that the intent of this site is to convince the visitors to this site that it is somehow an official government site, of the people, by the people and for the people, which it is not.

the attachments to this post:






Overlay of the two seals.

Seal of the US House of Representatives


50 Comments to ““Office of the President Elect” seal violates 18 USC Sec. 713??”

  1. nancy says:

    The real. Pres seal that you are showing is different from the one that I pulled up online. Has Obama changed the real one too?

  2. jason says:

    Ugh, give it up

  3. Tammy says:

    ok, so now what? does he get punished or does it all get swept under the rug?

  4. nancy says:

    My guess is Obama can and will get away with anything and everything.
    He could sell this country to the devil and his supporters will be fine with it.

  5. Jonboy says:

    Mr. Obama is getting a major education right now and learning that he can’t do anything he promised. No tax increases of the rich because it would send us into a depression, no removing troops from Iraq because it would go into Chaos, no sitting down with dictators because that’s just stupid, no universal health care because you would have to almost totally shut down the free market and there’s no money for it….so on and so on! He is getting briefed with so much info that his head is spinning. Most of what he can do for this country he has already done by mentally liberating so many people. That isn’t a small thing either:-)

  6. Donald Montaine says:

    The office of the President Elect and the office of the Vice-president Elect are authorized by the Presidential Transitions act of 1963, and amended by the Presidential Transitions act of 2000. The Acts specifically say that the offices comes into being on the day after the general election and disappear on Jan 20th. It does not wait until the electoral college votes.

  7. John says:


    I read the act, and it calls for providing office space to the President-elect and Vice President-elect, but the President-elect is not an elected office (such as the office of the President) or an administrative unit of government, such as the Office of the Comptroller of Currency or the Office of Management and Budget. In fact, the act specifically says:

    “The terms “President-elect” and “Vice-President-elect” as used in this Act shall mean such persons as are the apparent successful candidates for the office of the President and Vice President, respectively, as ascertained by the Administrator following the general elections held to determine the electors of the President and Vice-President in accordance with title 3, United States code, sections 1 and 2.”

    It says nothing about the office of President-elect, primarily because there is no elected office of “President-elect”, the “President-elect” is just the person who has been elected to, but does not yet occupy, the office of the President.

    The problem remains, the combination of the formal sounding name, the .gov domain and the use of the Great Seal confer the legitimacy of our government upon what is essentially a private 501c(4) organization that does not have to comply with the disclosure or transparency rules of an actual government organization.


  8. bobo says:

    If you honestly think anyone other than partisan hacks (let alone law enforcement) is going to care about this, you are as pathetically deluded as the rest of the meow’s.

  9. mjishernameo says:

    Ya can’t make this stuff up….this man is such a putz. I am embarrassed for him. What a putz.

  10. [...] How could I forget! The Obama Presidential seal is back! [...]

  11. Steve says:

    I’ve got some ideas for his ex-president seal.

  12. Mike says:

    The man won a majority of the popular and a landslide majority of the electoral vote. He has a transition team that is working with the current administration, with appropriate security clearances. He has said, repeatedly, that America has just one president and one government at a time and that government is the current (Bush) administration. It’s clear, most of you on this site, which I just stumbled upon, supported someone other than Barack Obama for president. YOU LOST, fair and square. LET IT GO!!! With God’s blessing and any added luck, Obama won’t be an ex-president until January 20, 2016.

    By the way, it’s worth noting that ex-presidents, no longer involved in running the government, also use the image from the Great Seal of the United States on their stationary, offices, etc. Should be go after them, too?!?!? LOL

  13. Greg says:

    It’s amazing how petty and fatuous the “issues” with which “conservatives” concern themselves. It seems to elude them that the economic, international and Constitutional disasters they’ve brought to the nation are precisely the reason they’ve been tossed out on their corrupt, incompetent asses . . .

  14. Scott says:

    And so it begins. Buckle your seatbelts kiddies, the next four years are going to get mighty rough.

  15. Rich says:

    Greg Says:
    November 12th, 2008 at 9:34 am

    It’s amazing how petty and fatuous the “issues” with which “conservatives” concern themselves…

    yes, nothing like the substantive issues w/ which libs concern themselves, like, uh Sarah Palin’s wardrobe, Joe the Plumber’s tax records, whether Joe’s name is actually “Joe” and on and on…

    the point of the headline of this blogpost is that Lord O is flouting the law. So informed, he should wipe all such references at the very least.

  16. Terry says:

    The legality of this issue aside, it demonstrates extreme arrogance on the part of Barack Obama. Even as the president-elect, he has no authority over the U.S. until the transfer of power on January 20, 2009. Until then, he should just shut up and work quietly on the transition. George Bush is still the President of the United States and the only one authorized to speak for its people until that time.

  17. Adam says:

    It demonstrates something a little more frightening than arrogance. This guy is convinced (and I’m starting to be) that he’s politically bulletproof.

    Pay attention here: the effective end here is that he gets to play grown-up, and maybe gets a bit of a public image boost. The sophomoric means, however trivial an offense, violates United States criminal code.

    This after his citizenship — one of a handful of qualifications for the office of President — literally has been made a federal case. This while Vice President Cheney has made headlines (the true goal) by being indicted for being financially invested in a company that is financially invested in prisons where mistreatment of detainees may or may not have occurred.

    One might be inclined to think Obama is making an earnest effort to get himself impeached before he is inaugurated. I am inclined to think the guy is convinced he’s reached a position where he can do whatever he wants, unquestioned.

    Fear this man.

  18. ros echols says:

    How about a Crown maby England has an extra

  19. Danny says:

    Welcome to the Realm of His Holiness Obama. This man is nothing more than an arrogant self-centered egotist who managed to fool enough people to be elected into the position of the leader of the free world.

    Mike states that his team has “appropriate security clearances”, and I am sure that THEY do. Isn’t it a shame that until he became the “President-Elect” that he couldn’t have been hired as one of his bodyguards? Has it occured to anyone, that with his associations with Rev. Wright and Ayers, not to mention others, that this man would have never been able to get the security clearance needed to get a job at the Secret Service? And the sheeple of the USA elected this guy and handed him the keys to all of the “TOP SECRET” info we have. I would bet that there are government offices that are trying to figure out what not to tell His Holiness.

    His acceptance speech at the Dem. convention was just a small glimpse into the ego of this man. Who else, in recent history, other than a king or Hitler, needed a venue that would hold 30,000 people?

    As sad as it is I am going to take Scotts advice and buckle up. It is going to be a nasty ride.

  20. Trisha says:

    Oh, dear! Is this what’s it’s coming to? This is not an issue of conservatives vs. liberals–it is an issue about the legality of a seemingly inconsequential move by a man who OFFICIALLY holds no elected office. Does Obama think he’s above the law? Absolutely! Does Obama see himself as some sort of Savior? Absolutely (re: his speech in Germany in which he practically declared himself the President of the World before he had come close to being elected President of the United States!). Is this exposure going to make a difference? Probably not. One look at who Obama is carrying around in his back pocket should make anyone realize the audacity and arrogance this man has.

  21. Steve says:

    Oh boy. I’m sooooo… concerned that some graphic artist working for Obama didn’t know that wasn’t by the book. Too bad McCain didn’t win–then we would have had speech after speech about it, the artist would have gotten the maximum penalty, and his very first act would have been to sign the flag desecration ammendment and establish an Office of Artistic Compliance with pistol-packing enforcers to make sure this never happens again. I mean, God knows, the biggest problem this country faces right now is that a logo doesn’t look right. Oh, and just in case you aren’t sure, or you’re a moron or something, YES I’M BEING SARCASTIC.

  22. Matt says:

    To those of you in doubt as to whether he is copying the real seal of the united states, look at the back of a dollar bill. He’s not copying the presidential seal, no. But he IS copying the official seal of the United States of America.

  23. Greg says:

    The real point is that Obama supporters have been so concerned with getting him, or really any Democrat into office, that nothing matters. Not the things he does, not the things he says or changes, nor the things the man holding the “Office of the Vice-President’s Office for the Vice-Presidential Office for Change” says. Is it somewhat trivial that he is breaking the law – NO. When you speed, you have broken the law. Most of the time you will get a pass/a warning, if you get caught and that is fine. But, despite this, you have broken the law and should at least own up to your mistake and make an effort to comply. Should you receive a ticket, well, you were the one breaking the law. Can Mr. Obama know all of the laws of the nation all of the time – not a chance. But he does have a large staff who are supposed to advise him of these matters and should he or his staff become aware that they are in violation of a law then they should own up to this and change their behavior. I am so sick of the rabid supporters of Mr. Obama who try to turn his law violation around and say “Well, McCain (or Bush) this or that blah, blah, blah…” This isn’t about McCain – Obama will be our next president but he and his staff seem to have a very careless attitude about what applies to them. Even the appearance of an attitude that “I’m not sure what the definition of ‘is’ is…” seems to bode ill for the next administration and the United States of America.

  24. Leiden says:

    OK, so you show that the seal used by Obama, from the non-governmental “Office of the President Elect”, is different than the Seal of the President.
    You demonstrate that it is clearly identified as Office of the President-Elect, so no-one is confused between Obama as President-Elect and Bush as President. No-one is falsely confused that the President-Elect is the President.

    Obama is not using the Presidential Seal, and Obama is not claiming to be President. No-one can confuse Obama for being Bush.
    What are your concerns? Why is this an issue?

  25. Brent says:

    I agree that this probably doesn’t hurt anyone, but it’s crazy nonetheless.

    Imagine that a company hires a new salesman, and when accepting the job the salesman negotiates a start date of three weeks later. And in those three weeks between accepting the job and his first day of work, the company becomes aware that the salesman is using their letterhead to send memos to his new accounts that announce his intention of doing a really good job taking care of their needs once he begins work in his new position.

    It just seems a little crazy and unnecessary.

  26. Debbie says:

    Obama remains president elect while Bush remains the President of America. Is anyone in doubt? This is such an elementary issue that even school kids can absorb. I think it’s too early to start casting aspersions.

  27. nick p says:

    Okay, let’s fine the guy (http://www.spinwhip.com/obama) and put him in jail for 6 months. That’s what’s good for America right now right?

  28. DonT says:

    Yes, yes, it is all true… arrogant, self serving,self aggrandising and silly! Does it also say vero possumus (images too small)? It is clear there is a lack of respect for the People, but this is what the majority has voted. It has been my position that I do not not want stupid people to vote. It is the right for all to vote, but just wish the uninformed or inordinately persuadable would stay home.

  29. Daniel says:

    Sadly, Barack Obama is NOT the President-Elect since the voting for President of the United States has NOT taken place yet (December 15).

  30. James says:

    The arrogance of this elitest prick is amazing. He and his little band of socialists are going to destroy the very fabric of this country. That is the issue, his total arrogance and elitism. He has no grasp on reality and values power. The chump cannot even speak if you get him away from a teleprompter. He is a joke, the American people have been duped, and we will pay a heavy price for voting him and Socialist Democrats in.

  31. matthew thomas says:

    well, as far as i can tell it actually does not violate the law. Since he has actually been elected I would argue that he is an official representative of the incoming administration that this does not violate the spirit of the law, which is to prevent advertisers marketers from using the seal for misleading or fraudulent marketing gimics.

  32. Tiffany says:

    Just another sign of the already obvious… Obama is a fraud!

  33. Steve says:

    As one person who posted above said “Obama will get a way with anything and everything”. I still do not believe that he was born in the United States. Law suites are still pending on this issue. If he were, he would have produced the documents to prove it, and the issue would be put to bed. He hasn’t, however. It seems like the Constitution does not apply to “The One”.

  34. Steve says:

    Sorry, law “suits”. It’s still early here.

  35. Erik says:

    For months now, a good portion of this country has been chuckling to itself about politics in Illinois. Illinois has been the laughingstock, if you will, when it comes to politics. The state has been derided because there are several federal investigations into the current governor’s administration regarding “pay-to-play” politics. The Democratic machine in Chicago and Cook County rules the roost and simply does not allow opposing views. In all of Illinois, he who has the most connections and money will get what they ask for. And Obama learned his politics at the knee of the Chicago Democratic machine. If you think Chicago and Illinois politics is funny, just wait until you get a load of it on the federal level! As was noted in an earlier post, buckle up. And remember to keep your head and arms inside the ride at all times.

  36. theDeetz says:

    From Day 1, W was claimed to be an illegitimate moron by unintelligible myrmidons.

    Payback is a real B1+C# and Little Lord barry BOHICA is gonna get it in spades.

    We bring fact, logic, reason with a twist of verbal plausible deniability to boot.

    Honeymoon Hell !!!


  37. obamagirlNOT says:

    It is quite amazing how this guy gets away with just about anything. He can use the seal of the United States to declare an office that doesn’t exist. He can cry “change” and select all the old Clinton representatives back into the White House. He can deny mostly every charge brought up to him regarding his associations, as though these people were just fleeting associations from his past that don’t mean anything. He can spend half of his time in the Senate as a JR Senator campaigning for the highest office in the land, claim that he has experience and successfully fool those who foolishly voted him in, with absolutely no credentials. I would like to see any one of us who hold a job for the amount of time he spent in congress and see if we can qualify to run the company, let alone the country. Unbelievable, America! You got what you asked for. Hope it’s worth it.

  38. Hope4Truth says:

    Get over it soreheads, Obama was duly elected by a majority of
    Americans and is the President-elect of the United States. So why
    don’t you show the man the respect he earned and deserves? The people
    have spoken. The casting of votes in the electoral college is just
    a formality. No President-elect has ever been denied the Presidency
    after the general election. So, grow up and be glad we have elected
    the most intelligent man that was in the race because we need some
    brains in the White House after Bush. The economy is in the worst
    shape since 1935 and we are lucky to have someone smart enough to
    handle this problem. Who cares about a stupid sign? There’s nothing
    wrong with it unless you’re a sore head loser who voted for the
    other guy.

  39. ludwig says:

    I am not sure what the problem here is but this is not the first controversy over using such seals. The South Carolina Attorney General in his hateful ant-gay campaign used the State Seal to represent him as speaking for the Governemnt of the State when he went to churches to get their backing for his anti-gay laws. Many of us found this offensive because it was saying that the State of South Carolina is a state of bigotry and unequality—well historically that was true—South Carolina was one of the diehard states supporting slavery and the Confederate Flag. Shameful as that is until the misuse of the Seal here; many people had thought those shameful days were by gone days.

    It is my opinion that we should have a President Elect Office officially recognized by Congress. Obama has some big messes to clean up after Bush. You folks should not be so petty and instead admire his get up and go and hit the ground running. Past Presidents sort of waited around to the last minute to get their Government in order—which security wise –was a dangerous thing to do. So while Obama may not accomplished everyting he wishes without OUR and CONGRESS’s help—we have great expectations of the first 100 days.

  40. jjones says:

    I’d like to say all the negativity regarding this blog is so unimportant. Again Obama won! Get over it. We got over it when Bush’s lousy ass won. Then look what happened. Is someone’s seal on a website really going to affect anything and is it more important than the real issues at hand. We are one people and for the past 8 years we’ve been just waiting for Bush to get done. Now we’re waiting for Obama to get started. Oh well, deal with the victory, and to some a loss. Obama isn’t arrogant, Bush isn’t arrogant. Those who sit around wasting their time with this mentality are stupid as hell and really need to reprioritize their time. It’ll be greatly appreciated.

    OBAMA 08 !

  41. Cernan says:

    He IS the President-elect, as result of the government sanctioned national election held on November 4. His team has been sponsored, financially, by our Government with funds for the purpose of the transition. The CIA brings him daily security updates. His office is definitely approved and sponsored U.S. Government. Therefore there is no violation of 18 USC Sec. 713. If there was a violation, his office would have been informed right away and he would stop using the seal. Keep in mind, unlike Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, Mr. Obama is a law-abiding government official and will continue to be so during his years in the White House.

  42. Blobby Sox says:

    Time for Impeachment-Elect! Never Too Early!

  43. jeff says:

    Most of the morons that voted for “O” simply wanted to vote for someone other than a Bush follower. Either that or they had the mentality of the ACORN geoup. They didn’t realize that Bush wasn’t the problem…the Democratic Congress is the problem…and now the EVIL Hillary has been named as Secretary of State after the big “O” questioned what she knew about world events no less than 6 months ago. Add Robert Rubin to the Obama team…a guy who single handledly brought down banking giant Citigroup while collecting $100 million over the past 7 years. Yes, “O” was voted into office by the majority, but the majority of Germany supported Hitler’s rise to power, too. Let us not forget Joe Biden, another rocket scientist whose record shows no major contributions to society. Hold on for the wild ride over the next few years. BTW, has Obama’s team created a birth certificate yet, proving he was eligible for the office of the President, or is that small detail going to be allowed to pass because he is the first African American to reach that post? Obviously, the voting public didn’t pass the MENSA tests, this time around.

  44. Angie says:

    Bwahahahaha…Jess you are hilarious. Yes, the overwhelming majority that voted for Barack Obama in a landslide victory have just been duped by the Democratic Congress. Did you ever stop to think that for SIX YEARS before it was a DEMOCRATIC congress that it was a REPUBLICAN CONGRESS operating FOR a REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT? You cannot UNDO SIX years of bad governing in two short years. It will take a long long time to get us out of the mess that Bush & Co. have gotten us into – not even sure if PRESIDENT-ELECT OBAMA can get us out of it during his term – but you that hate him for whatever reason you can manufacture will refuse to see that. Go on and hate, it becomes you.

  45. EE says:

    If you want to prosecute Obama for using the Great Seal, that’s fine, go ahead. But I hope he would be in line behind Bush for lying to the country about weapons of mass destruction and certainly behind Cheney for refusing to comply with a congressional subpoena. Where do you conservatives who just loved the fact that Bush beat Kerry in 04 stand on those issues? Hmm? That’s what I thought. You didn’t even wait for the taste of crow to leave your palates before you started harping on one of the most insignificant things that Obama could have done.

    I hope Obama is bulletproof, enough to squash the republican party for good.

  46. Oli says:

    “Obviously, the voting public didn’t pass the MENSA tests, this time around.”

    Oh yeah, and I guess the voting public really passed the Mensa tests in 2000 or 2004. You know you stole the election in 2000 and probably in 2004 again. Republican bastards…

  47. Orli says:

    I have to laugh when the Obots say ” get over it, we did when Bush was elected”! Really? Eight years of claiming he stole the elections. Eight years of calling him a moron even though his University grades were better than Gore’ the Divinity school drop out! Eight years of giving him no credit for preventing another 9/11. No, Bush was far from perfect, but at least he is a natural born citizen, not a Kenyan born fraud with most probably Indonesian citizenship, nor a Chicago Democrat Machine thug with ties to Rezco, Wright, Farrakhan, etc. etc. etc.!
    No I won’t “get over it” and the SOB is NOT my President!

  48. zrgkl says:

    It is fascinating how one human using cardboard symbols can grab so much power and brandish it about. Equally amazing is how millions upon millions of other humans believe whatever he says, and allow this same single human to get away with a lot of wrongdoings that they will not allow other humans to make. Hmm. What an amazing creature. Understandably in their joy, they’re mating to make more of their kind but somehow they’re terminating many of their young before they reach full gestation. Very illogical. I must report this immediately to our leader, ZRkoz, for better analysis.

  49. Joe Z. says:

    Isn’t is AMAZING how so many of these bitter comments sound EXACTLY what people said about George W. Bush? “Arrogant?” “Unable to speak away from the teleprompter?” “Thinks he can get away with anything?” What were your stock responses when people complained about Bush’s arrogance and stupidity? Just repeat those to yourselves.

  50. LJRTIGER says:

    Ludwig – First, don’t go making generalizations about an entire state when you so obviously have no idea what you are talking about. The support of the Confederate flag and slavery are not the same issue. The flag was a symbol of the secession of South Carolina based on its disagreement with the US Government over states’ rights…look it up. Second, it sounds like you don’t disagree with Obama using the logo in a “controversial” manner, as you describe it. If so, why the issue with the South Carolina Attorney General using the SC logo? I suspect the answer is because you happen to agree with Mr. Obama, but not the SC Attorney General.

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