Donald Trump’s online shop is offering specials for Black Friday, a rare move for a president-elect and one that will generate more cash for his campaign committee and the Republican National Committee. The site is offering discounts of 30 percent in honor of the day - which traditionally kicks off the holiday shopping rush - adopting an approach that’s more common at Wal-Mart or Old Navy.
“The Trump campaign’s Black Friday sale is a first in my experience with politics,” said Paul S. Ryan, vice president of policy and litigation at campaign-finance reform group Common Cause. Still, it’s not unusual for a president-elect to keep pushing for cash after securing office, he said. “Candidates that win can and do successfully continue fundraising.”
The Trump camp created a stir earlier this week after it started selling a $149 Christmas ornament branded with the campaign slogan “Make America Great Again.” The trinket, made of brass and 24-karat gold, drew satirical reviews from Trump critics on Amazon.com, where it currently has a 1.4-star rating (out of 5).
The Trump store touted the Black Friday sale in an e-mail blast to followers. “President-elect Trump loves a great deal,” according to the e-mail. “Use Coupon Code: BLACKFRIDAY to get 30 percent OFF your favorite items at the Official Store for Trump Gear.”
Trump trademarked the phrase “Make America Great Again” in 2012 and assigned ownership of it to his campaign committee in July 2015, according to records at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. If he were to choose in the future to reclaim the slogan for personal use, he’d have to reimburse the campaign for it, Ryan says, though determining a value would be difficult.
One thing Trump couldn’t do: profit from the hats, T-shirts, yard signs and other items the campaign has already purchased. “That merchandise is a campaign asset and can’t be converted to personal use,” Ryan said.
Hillary Clinton’s merchandise store, meanwhile, is still operating -- but it had a more muted tone on Black Friday. “Last call: Stock up with free shipping” the home page reads.