Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke says he's joining Homeland Security

By Mike Bambach   |   Updated May 17, 2017 at 8:04 PM
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May 17 (UPI) -- David Clarke, the tough-talking, cowboy hat-wearing sheriff of Milwaukee County, will join the Department of Homeland Security next month, he said Wednesday in a radio interview.

"I'm both honored and humbled to be appointed to this position by Secretary [John F.] Kelly, working for the Trump administration," Clarke told WISN-AM.

The department did not confirm Clarke's appointment, but noted the position does not require Senate confirmation.

"The position mentioned is a secretarial appointment," the DHS told the Los Angeles Times in a statement. "Such senior positions are announced by the department when made official by the secretary. No such announcement with regard to the office of public engagement has been made."

The department tweeted a similar statement.

Clarke said he will work as a liaison with state, local and tribal law enforcement in the DHS Office of Partnership and Engagement starting June.

According to the Homeland Security Department's organizational chart, Clarke will oversee one of 18 offices that report to Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Elaine C. Duke.

Clarke was a high-profile surrogate for Donald Trump during the campaign, earning him a prime time speaking role at the Republican National Convention. Since the election, he has continued defending Trump as a cable news surrogate and elsewhere.

"In President Donald Trump, we have chosen a leader," he said in a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference in February. "The rule of law doesn't divide us. It binds us together in our great American life."

Clarke's rhetoric made him a polarizing figure. One of the few African-Americans to speak last year at the convention, Clarke called Black Lives Matter protests "anarchy."

In 2015, he belittled the group as "Black Lies Matter," saying they "will join forces with [the Islamic State] to bring down our legal constituted republic. You heard it here first."

Clarke leaves Wisconsin amid calls for his resignation after an inquiry recommended felony charges in an inmate's death by dehydration in one of his jails last year.

Three other people died at the jail in the following months, which Clarke dismissed as "fake news."

"Our country deserves better," Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele said of Clarke's federal appointment. He criticized Clarke for "gratuitous name calling, insults of other public officials, questioning judges' sentences."

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