Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke has been appointed by the Donald Trump administration to a position in the Homeland Security Department, according to numerous published reports.
However, Homeland Security said it had not yet made an announcement, and Clarke never assumed the position after all.
A reporter with US News tweeted that Clarke will take an assistant secretary position. According to The Hill, Clarke will serve as “a deputy secretary of Homeland Security.”
Vikki McKenna, a conservative talk radio host in Milwaukee, wrote on Twitter that Clarke had confirmed the news on May 17, writing, “Confirmed in an exclusive interview on my show, @SheriffClarke will leave his position as Milwaukee County Sheriff for a position at DHS.”
Clarke, who runs as a Democrat but has many conservative positions, is well-known for his controversial comments and, back home, was facing questions about a death in the Milwaukee County Jail. Fox 6 reported that Clarke “mocked” a county supervisor in April who compared the jail to a “medieval dungeon.” The sheriff is known around Milwaukee and on conservative television programs for his often-present cowboy hat (and horse).
Clarke launched his career with the Milwaukee Police Department in 1978, and served 24 years with that department. According to his official biography, he served 11 years as a patrol officer and “received meritorious citations for felony arrests.” He became a detective in 1989, and was assigned to the homicide division, “where he was part of a team that investigated more than 400 homicides in a four-year period.”
Clarke resigned as Milwaukee sheriff on August 31 without citing a reason.
Clarke spoke at the Republican National Convention and has been a full-throttled supporter of Trump. In a recent example, he called Trump’s opponents, “swamp creatures.”
A Washington Post reporter tweeted that the appointment had not been announced yet by DHS, however. According to Clarke, it starts in June, he said.
Clarke was facing a primary challenge on the left from Earnell Lucas, a former Milwaukee police commander who helps manage security for Major League Baseball. Although he runs for sheriff as a Democrat, Clarke was first appointed by a Republican governor, Scott McCallum, to be Milwaukee County Sheriff. He was elected in 2002 for his first four-term term as the Sheriff of largely Democratic Milwaukee County, Wisconsin’s most populous county. He won with 64 percent of the vote but increased his popularity with voters. According to his bio, “Sheriff Clarke is now in his fourth term, having been re-elected in November 2006, 2010, and 2014, increasing his victory margins to 73%, 74% and 79% respectively.”
Clarke is known for his outspoken comments on guns, Black Lives Matter, and revolution, and these remarks have earned him both fans and foes.
He opened his RNC speech by saying loudly, “Blue Lives Matter in America!”
Clarke calls himself the “People’s Sheriff,” and he has spoken out against Black Lives Matter.
Clarke said on the Don Lemon show, “My message has been clear from day one two years ago. This anti-cop sentiment from this hateful ideology called Black Lives Matter has fueled this rage against the American police officer. I predicted this two years ago…This anti-police rhetoric sweeping the country has turned out some hateful things inside of people that are now playing themselves out on the American police officer.”
Clarke frequently chastises the media and Black Lives Matter for not talking more about black-on-black crime. He said to Lemon: “I want to know with all of the black on black violence in the United States of America, by the way, when the tragedies happened in Louisiana and Minnesota, do you know that 21 black people were murdered across the United States? Was there any reporting on it?”
Clarke is known for making frequent appearances on national conservative and other television and radio shows, where he weighs in on national and international issues. Clarke frequently refers to the Black Lives Matter movement as “Black Lies Matter”:
He accused Black Lives Matter of being a “hateful ideology.” In July 2016, he wrote, “All Black LIES Matter schophants report NOW to Chicago to rally in support of the real problem in America, black on black homicides.”
In 2015, he went on the Alex Jones show nationally and “warned of a second American Revolution if cops have to enforce extreme gun control measures,” said The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Clarke then went on the Jeanine Pirro show and repeated the point. Watch:
On the Pirro show, Clarke said he had made the comments on Revolution after being asked if he would “participate in assisting the feds in coming into states and going into homes to take people’s guns away.” He said he would refuse (he told The Journal Sentinel even in the case of an executive order).
“I wouldn’t want to get shot. The American people are only going to put up with so much before they will push back. If the feds try to do that, disarm this country, you will see an uprising and maybe a version of the Second American Revolution. Just read the Declaration of Independence. It’s right in there.” He again repeated to Pirro that he was talking about the federal government “forcing their way into homes and removing firearms.”
Clarke told Jones, according to The Journal Sentinel, “Read the Declaration of Independence. It’s right there, where law-abiding people say, ‘Enough is enough — you’re exerting too much influence in our lives. This is tyrannical, and we’re going to stop it.’ That’s what they’re worried about.”
When the reporter asked if he stood by his statements “about the possibility of another American Revolution over guns,” he responded, “I’m sure in 1776 that idea seemed way out there, too, at the time. The American people will decide when to push back, not me.”
In 2013, Clarke filmed a series of public service announcements in Milwaukee that suggested people arm themselves rather than waiting to call 911. According to NPR, he made the move after his department’s budget was cut. NPR quotes one of the Clarke PSAs as saying:
“I’m Sheriff David Clarke, and I want to talk to you about something personal: your safety…You could beg for mercy from a violent criminal, hide under the bed, or you could fight back. But are you prepared? Consider taking a certified safety course in handling a firearm so you can defend yourself until we get there. You have a duty to protect yourself and your family.”
You can listen to a Clarke PSA here.
Clarke has called the NRA, which he strongly supports, a “civil rights” group, and he’s a strident critic of Barack Obama.
After the Dallas police shootings, Clarke controversially tweeted of Obama: “American needs Obama to get out of bed & address Dallas situation NOW. He poured gas on this situation with his dog whistle message earlier.”
Clarke has referred to “Islamism” as a “sick ideology” that needs destroying:
Clarke often criticizes President Obama in very personal terms.
Clarke has described Obama’s “domestic policy doctrine” as being: “Create chaos and social commotion.” He’s called the president “delusional.”
Sheriff Clarke was born and raised in Milwaukee, and was a member of the Marquette University High School basketball team, which won a state private school championship in 1973 (Marquette is a Catholic High School.) He and his wife, Julie Clarke, built a home in the city. His official bio says Julie Clarke is a realtor. The Clarkes do not have children.
A profile on Clarke in Milwaukee Magazine said his father was an Army veteran who parachuted into combat in the Korean War before returning to Milwaukee to raise five children with his wife and work in the post office. Clarke, who was born in 1956, always followed orders, his father told the magazine.
Clarke rose through the ranks of the Milwaukee Police Department to become commanding officer of the MPD’s Intelligence Division, his bio says, and served as the MPD’s liaison with the United States Attorney’s office as coordinator of a violent crime reduction program called CEASEFIRE, which focused on illegal use of firearms. His bio says he has a degree in Criminal Justice Management from Wisconsin’s Concordia University. In 2013, he received an M.A. in Security Studies from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, Center for Homeland Defense and Security, in Monterey, California.
Clarke was vocal about his support of Donald Trump for president for some time. He has a website called thepeoplessheriff.com, on which he has written: “I cannot wait until January 20, 2017 when President Obama leaves the White House for the last time. And I hope, I pray that Donald J. Trump becomes the next commander-in-chief…”
On Twitter, Clarke frequently railed against Hillary Clinton.
He’s retweeted Trump and defended Trump, writing of protesters at a Trump rally: “Yesterday I called the anarchists who raided the Chicago Trump event goons and creeps. It was a gross understatement.”
The fact Clarke runs as a Democrat has enraged some of Wisconsin’s liberal bloggers and energized primary competition against him.
On his website, Clarke has explained that he doesn’t believe law enforcement is political, writing, “Like me, most people question why the Office of Sheriff is a partisan election. I have never asked a person to vote for me because I run as a Democrat. I ask them to vote for me based on my 35-year commitment to keeping citizens safe. Most voters get it when it comes to public safety. There is no Democrat or Republican way to be a sheriff. The enemy is not the opposing party; the enemy is the criminal.”