Reagan Foundation stops Trump, RNC from raising money off the former president's image

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump during the GOP debate at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley.
Then-presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks during a Republican debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley on Sept. 16, 2015. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

The Republican National Committee agreed to stop selling coins featuring Ronald Reagan's likeness after the former president's foundation asked it to stop. The RNC sold the coins in a fundraising effort with President Trump's reelection campaign.

On July 19, the joint fundraising committee emailed supporters asking for a donation of $45 or more for a set of commemorative coins featuring Trump and Reagan. The coin display case included a photo of the two men shaking hands during a 1987 White House Reception.

After learning of the fundraising, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute — which runs the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley— called the RNC last week to demand the committee stop, the Washington Post reported.

“The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute owns the name, image and likeness of President Reagan and [the RNC] used his image for the coin without our consent,” Melissa Giller, the Reagan foundation's chief marketing officer, told Time. “We called the RNC and asked them to cease and desist the use of President Reagan on the coin and they agreed.”

The RNC said its use of the former president's likeness wasn't out of bounds, and Republicans regularly use his image for events such as "Reagan Dinners."

"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 Reagan's likeness before, their objection came as a surprise," RNC communications director Michael Ahrens said. "Even though we believe our use of the image was appropriate, we will stop emailing this fundraising solicitation as a courtesy."

RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel took to Twitter to ask whether the Reagan Foundation plans to return money that Donald Trump Jr. and his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle raised for it. The younger Trump held a book signing at the library in November. Other members of the Trump family and administration, including Ivanka Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, have helped the foundation with its fundraising.

McDaniel added that Trump has fought for many of the same conservative values as Reagan. "The weaponization of his foundation to attack President Trump and the Republican Party is disgraceful," she wrote Sunday.

Trump has said Reagan was his favorite president, though he disapproved of his trade policies. "I think Ronald Reagan was one of the great presidents, period, not just recently," Trump told Forbes in 2011. "I thought he had the demeanor, I thought he had the bearing, I thought he had the thought process."

The president also took a jab at the former president's organization. "So the Washington Post is running the Reagan Foundation," Trump tweeted Sunday, referencing a post that noted Frederick J. Ryan is the publisher and chief executive of the Washington Post and chair of the Reagan foundation board.