Ethics Commission finds 'unintentional' violation in Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones' gift to cops | Arkansas Blog

Friday, May 19, 2017

Ethics Commission finds 'unintentional' violation in Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones' gift to cops

Posted By on Fri, May 19, 2017 at 12:44 PM

click to enlarge GIFTED: Jerry Jones (right) gift to North Little Rock officer Michael Gibbons wound up before Ethics Commission. - BAD GOVERNMENT IN ARKANSAS BLOG
  • Bad Government in Arkansas blog
  • GIFTED: Jerry Jones (right) gift to North Little Rock officer Michael Gibbons wound up before Ethics Commission.
Blogger Russ Racop reports that the Arkansas Ethics Commission voted 3-2 today to find that Dallas Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones had unintentionally violated the state ethics law in giving $300,000 worth of free trips to Cowboy games to North Little Rock police officers. He'll get a letter to that effect.

Jones appeared before the commission and, in what Racop said were emotional remarks, said he didn't view the gifts as a reward for police work but to send a positive message of the work police do outside of their normal jobs. Jones' lawyer, Catherine Dolan, a Cowboy staffer and former lawyer in Little Rock, also argued that Jones believed the North Little Rock City Council resolution declaring the gifts official compensation made them proper. Racop pointed out that the arrangements for the free tickets, hotel and travel costs were made before the Council resolution was adopted. The Council resolution came after Racop raised questions about the propriety of the gift.

According to Racop, Commissioner Sybil Hampton, former director of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, made the motion for a finding of an unintentional violation. Joining Hampton in the vote were commissioners Ashley Younger, a Little Rock lawyer, and Alice Eastwood, a lawyer and ethics officer for Walmart. Voting no were former Republican state Sen. Sharon Trusty of Russellville, and Tony Juneau, a lawyer from Rogers. No explanations were given for the no votes.

A letter to Jones was the only action possible under the law for a giver of an improper gift. A recipient may be punished with an official letter of warning on a first offense. Jones had refused a negotiated settlement offer given to the Fraternal Order of Police president Michael Gibbons.  Jones said he didn't want to settle because he didn't think he'd done wrong.

When Gibbons settled, the document acknowledged a law violation, but said Gibbons had "good cause" to believe it was allowable and he didn't even get a warning letter. Jones received the same presumption of good cause.

State law prohibits gifts to public employees for performance of work.

Racop said he didn't intend to "get police officers in trouble. I didn't even try to stop them from going to the game. It was just the rule of law, something that shouldn't be given."

The staff of the Ethics Commission came to that same conclusion in making a finding of probable cause to believe a violation had occurred.  Jones' refusal to accept a settlement put it before the commission for final adjudication. Even staff remarks praised Jones' good works in arguing for a finding of violation, Racop said.

It developed in the hearing today that Gibbons had talked to Dolan, a former prosecutor in Pulaski County, at a Cowboys game and her introduction of Gibbons to Jones put the gift in motion. 120 of 178 officers took trips, along with various friends and family at a cost estimated to be at least $300,000.

Ethics commissioners are appointed by the governor (Eastwood), lieutenant governor (Younger), House speaker (Juneau), attorney general and Senate president pro tem (Trusty). Hampton is the only commissioner appointed by a Democrat, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, who coincidentally argued early on that there was nothing improper about the gifts and who represented Gibbons.

Important bottom line: There's now precedent on gift giving, whether to cops, mayors or pollution inspectors.

AFTER MEETING: Jones talks with reporters today - RUSS RACOP
  • Russ Racop
  • AFTER MEETING: Jones talks with reporters today

Here's the motion the Commission adopted, though Commission director said he'd substitute the phrase "written guidance" for warning in Item 3.

click to enlarge motion.jpg

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

From the ArkTimes store


Comments (4)

Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-4 of 4

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Russians celebrated Trump's inaugural; guests included French Hill's contact

    The Washington Post recounts how influential Russians celebrated Donald Trump's inauguration a year ago, expecting good things to come from their support of Trump's election. The crowd included a Russian who'd made contact with U.S. Rep. French Hill and whose activities are now under special counsel investigation.
    • Jan 21, 2018
  • Benton County officers shoot man with gun

    The State Police reports the shooting of a man in a Gravette pointing  a gun at Benton County officers.
    • Jan 21, 2018
  • The Women's March open line

    Women were on the march around the U.S. today and that included with vibrant crowds in Little Rock and Fayetteville.
    • Jan 20, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Lawyers plead for mercy in Fort Smith forum shopping case

    Twelve of the lawyers facing punishment by federal Judge P.K. Holmes in Fort Smith for moving a class action case against an insurance company out of his court to a state court where it was speedily settled have filed their argument against sanctions.
    • Jun 16, 2016
  • Hospitality, restaurant groups oppose bathroom bill

    Add the restaurant and hospitality association to those opposed to Sen. Linda Collins-Smith's bill to keep transgender people out of public restrooms that match their gender identity.
    • Mar 16, 2017
  • Lawsuit filed over settlement in forum-shopping class action case

    The lawyers facing disciplinary action by federal Judge P.K. Holmes in Fort Smith over their settlement of a class action lawsuit against the USAA insurance company have a new legal headache.
    • Jun 21, 2016

Most Shared

  • Pot and politics

    The politics of medical marijuana in Arkansas will be an interesting story as it evolves.
  • The Oval outhouse

    One thing all Americans finally can agree upon is that public discourse has coarsened irretrievably in the era of Donald Trump and largely at his instance.

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Paywall progress

    • Don't know why you doubt that I had staff at one time, silverback66. State employees…

    • on January 21, 2018
  • Re: The Women's March open line

    • "This one simple error of fact indicates to me the book [by Michael Wolff] was…

    • on January 21, 2018
  • Re: The Medicaid charade explained

    • Apply for a low interest Business/Personal loans to pay your bills or start your own…

    • on January 21, 2018

© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation