A lawsuit filed against Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones shines light on the skeletons that sometimes only come into the light in the course of a security clearance investigation. A lawsuit filed in Texas and brought to light by the Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star Telegram claims Cowboys owner Jerry Jones has a daughter who only disclosed that Jones was her father in the course of an FBI security clearance investigation for a White House position in the Trump Administration.

The suit was brought by Alexandra Davis, who seeks to be freed from the bounds of a nondisclosure agreement signed by her mother, Cynthia Davis, who agreed to a financial settlement years prior in exchange for not publicly identifying Jones as Alexandra’s father.

It’s not clear why Davis seeks to¬† identify Jones as her father now, but reports indicate the lawsuit notes concerns about health concerns for her mother as well as fears of losing financial support if she goes against the nondisclosure agreement and identifies Jones as her father – a worthwhile claim for someone who has pursued a career where honesty, trustworthiness, and avoiding blackmail is important.

Hidden Children and a Security Clearance

The issue of estranged parents and children is actually no stranger to the security clearance process. Individuals are required to list both parents and children on the SF-86, so unless one chooses to lie and therefore tanks their chances at obtaining a security clearance, they’ll have to come clean in the course of a security clearance investigation. Security clearance attorney and regular ClearanceJobs contributor Sean Bigley notes the issue generally comes up when an individual has secretly fathered a child – and not when a child has a secretly famous father.

“The allegations in this particular case are unusual in that paternity issues are typically discovered in the security clearance process because the father is required to list the child on his SF-86, not the other way around,” said Bigley. “That is where the blackmail issue potentially arises, especially if a current spouse or significant other is unaware of the child. I’ve also seen paternity issues arise during polygraph examinations and when a jilted former lover contacts the clearance-holder’s employer to report the affair. Neither scenario is a good look for the clearance-holder.”

Nondisclosure Agreements and Security Clearances

Security clearance holders are subject to certain nondisclosure agreements related to their classified information – it is certainly a unique scenario when an individual comes into the process under a separate nondisclosure agreement (and is certainly an example of when a security clearance attorney is advisable). In this case it’s pure speculation, but it’s possible Davis had plans to expand her career and exposure – and potentially encountered instances where disclosing parentage would be required. The issue of blackmail is always relevant, and anything one tries – or needs – to hide is subject to a possible clearance eligibility issue.

Bigley emphasized that individuals who don’t know who their father is or even an individual who is the product of infidelity generally would not face clearance issues on those criteria. The trustworthiness, blackmail, and issues would general fall on the party trying to hide or prevent other parties from finding out about the illegitimate child.

When filling out the SF-86, the answer is always to be honest. It’s worth noting your answers are protected, as well, and not likely to be the source of an online scandal – unless they surprise dad you list happens to sit on top of a football empire.



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Lindy Kyzer is the director of content at ClearanceJobs.com. Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email lindy.kyzer@clearancejobs.com. Interested in writing for ClearanceJobs.com? Learn more here.. @LindyKyzer