Dallas Cowboys

Jerry Jones reprimanded for treating Arkansas police officers to Cowboys games

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones on learning of his Hall of Fame induction.

Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday.
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Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday.

What a year Jerry Jones is having.

First, election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Last week, a formal warning from the Arkansas Ethics Commission for being too nice to the police in his hometown of North Little Rock.

The Dallas Cowboys owner gave improper gifts to North Little Rock police officers but will be given a warning for the violation of Arkansas ethics laws since it was the first violation, media outlets reported.

Jones went to high school in North Little Rock, where he was a running back, before going on to play football at Arkansas and later owning businesses in the state.

How nice was Jones? Nice to the tune of treating over 100 officers plus friends and family members to Dallas Cowboys games at AT&T Stadium in Arlington late last season and paying for hotel accommodations and travel, at a cost of more than $300,000, the Arkansas Times’ Max Brantley reported.

The Arkansas Ethics Commission ruled 3-2 Friday that Jones committed an “unintentional violation” by conferring a gift to North Little Rock police detective Michael Gibbons and other officers, ArkansasOnline.com reported.

Gibbons is president of the North Little Rock Fraternal Order of Police. He and other officers were not sanctioned, according to ArkansasNews.com, since it was a first offense and they are not lobbyists.

Jones’ actual punishment is a sternly worded letter, it was reported.

The Cowboys owner could have accepted an offer of settlement and agreed to the commission finding but chose to appear before the commission and explain his position.

Russ Racop, who publishes a blog, “Bad Government in Arkansas,” filed the complaint on Nov. 2. He reported on the hearing.

The North Little Rock City Council had passed a resolution Oct. 24 accepting the gifts and passing them along to the officers as an employees benefit, ArkansasOnline.com reported. (The Ethics Commission dismissed Racop’s complaint against the North Little Rock mayor and council members.)

In the hearing, it was noted that “Jones provided the tickets, travel and accommodations to show his appreciation to NLRPD officers.”

And, “there was no evidence that anything was exchanged for the gift nor was anything expected.”

Jones made it clear he wasn’t helping the officers for their “day job,” but for their off-duty volunteer work in helping children in programs such as a police athletic league.

The Cowboys owner, according to Racop’s blog report, gave an “emotional appeal” to the Ethics Commission.

“Holding back tears, with trembling hands,” Jones said he was moved to do something for NLRPD officers after seeing a story on CNN touting good works done by officers.

The video, Jones said, according to Racop’s blog report on the hearing, “inspired him and he decided he needed to do something because of all the things going on nationally and all the pressure on police officers, ‘like Black Lives Matter and all those kinds of things ...’ 

The law is that no public servant shall: “(1) Receive a gift or compensation ... other than income and benefits from the governmental body to which he or she is duly entitled, for the performance of the duties and responsibilities of his or office or position.”

Plus, “no person shall confer a gift or compensation ... to any public servant.”

Which applies even to Jerry Jones, evidently.

Racop, who didn’t want to see any officers punished, told ArkansasNews.com that he was “happy with the outcome” and hoped the decision will deter future violations of the gift ban.

“Clearly, Mr. Jones didn’t expect anything back in return,” Racop said, according to ArkansasOnline.com. “But you can’t open the floodgates of gifting to public servants.”