MADISON — The job of replacing David Clarke as sheriff in Milwaukee County will fall to Gov. Scott Walker.
Clarke announced Wednesday, May 17th that he intends to resign in June to take a job with the Department of Homeland Security as a liaison to state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies.
"I look forward to joining that team," Clarke said during an interview on News/Talk 1130.
Clarke said he'll serve as an assistant secretary in the Department of Homeland Security.
"I will be working with them and then taking those concerns to the secretary to keep him informed of what the needs, what the complaints, what the short-comes are in the Department of Homeland Security so we can better serve these entities outside the federal government," Clarke said.
It's worth noting that Clarke has not officially resigned from his position as sheriff yet -- and DHS officials said on Twitter Wednesday "senior positions are announced when made official by the secretary. No such announcement with regard to the Office of Public Engagement has been made."
Walker spokesman Tom Evenson says once Clarke submits his resignation letter the process of appointing a successor can begin.
Whoever Walker picks will serve the remainder of Clarke's term, which runs through the end of 2018. There is an election in 2018 for the full four-year sheriff's term.
Former Milwaukee police captain Earnell Lucas is running and says he will ask Walker to appoint him. He issued this statement to FOX6 News:
“I have a deep and abiding commitment to this community, and the right experience in law enforcement and public safety to be the next Milwaukee County Sheriff. Strong leadership is needed as the office looks to the future.
I intend to submit my name to Governor Walker for appointment to fill the unexpired term. It would be an honor to be selected and I believe that I am the right person to fill this critical role.
Regardless, I will continue to be a candidate for a full term as Sheriff in 2018, and I look forward to earning the trust of Milwaukee County voters.”
Milwaukee County Circuit Judge John Siefert also says he plans to run in 2018. Both are Democrats.
Meanwhile, reaction to Clarke's announcement is pouring in.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said he is looking forward to working with someone new. He said he hasn't yet heard anything about potential replacements.
"I know that there are several people interested, but that is a decision that the governor will make and that individual will have to stand for re-election in 2018," Barrett said.
Governor Walker spoke briefly about the issue while touring tornado damage in Chetek.
"The announcement obviously has been made media-wise, but until I physically get it in our office, our clock doesn't start ticking," Walker said.
The below statements were issued after Clarke's announcement:
Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele
"I’ve said repeatedly that Milwaukee deserves better than Sheriff Clarke. America does too.
For the County I love and am privileged to serve, I am genuinely excited about the prospect of a Sheriff I can work with to find evidence-based solutions that will improve public safety and safely reduce our jail population, and who actually cares about addressing the indefensible racial disparities that everyone in Milwaukee should have as their first priority.
For the Country I love, the last thing America needs is another loud voice angrily and unproductively telling you who to blame and who not to trust.
The appointment of Sheriff Clarke to a position intended to build partnership and engagement is not a decision made by someone interested in partnership or engagement."
Voces de la Frontera
"Clarke is unfit for any office and should face criminal charges for the deaths and abuses at the jail. Trump's appointment of Clarke shows this administration's disregard for human rights. Scott Walker must appoint a sheriff who will withdraw from 287g, end collaboration with Trump's campaign of mass deportation and terror against immigrant families, and support reforms to prevent deaths and abuses at the Milwaukee County Jail."
Democratic Party of Wisconsin
"The public safety of our local communities and our nation isn't a joke, a game, or a popularity contest - but that's exactly how Sheriff David Clarke has treated his role over the past few months.
Sheriff Clarke, facing warranted scrutiny for the deaths of four people in his jail since last April, spent most of the last year traveling the country for paid speeches and hopping in front of cable news cameras to audition for a job in the Trump administration. Public safety is not a top priority for the Sheriff, his record on public safety in his own jail is evidence enough that he has no business working at the Department of Homeland Security.
I can only hope that Gov. Scott Walker appoints someone who is committed to the public safety of all Milwaukee County residents and will put their job to the people of the county ahead of politics and self-promotion because Milwaukee County certainly deserves better than the likes of Sheriff Clarke."
Senator Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee)
“While Sheriff Clarke’s departure is good news for Milwaukee County, it affirms the 45th President’s lack of clear judgement and regard for the safety of our nation and its people.
Since Clarke failed in his duty to protect human lives in Milwaukee County’s jail and abused his authority by harassing and threating residents, why would the 45th President even consider Clarke for an appointment?
Under Clarke’s leadership, children to the mentally ill have suffered and died, resulting in multiple costly lawsuits that stick Milwaukee taxpayers with the bill as Clarke giddy ups and rides to D.C. I pray for the sake of human life that Sheriff Clarke has learned from the horror show that he has left behind in Milwaukee County.”
Senator Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee)
“With this disturbing news, it’s clear that Trump continues to betray the nation’s trust with his appointment of Milwaukee County Sheriff as the newest member of the Trump Deportation Team. This is the same person who attempted to incite violence against the very institutions he has sworn to protect by telling people to get their ‘pitchforks and torches.’
In January, Clarke threatened violence to fellow air passengers saying, ‘next time he or anyone else pulls this stunt on a plane they may get knocked out.’ That threat came after a passenger on a plane shook his head at him. Sheriff Clarke has, again and again, shown our community and the nation a disturbing pattern of bizarre, irresponsible and menacing behavior. Our neighbors are right to be concerned with the damage Clarke could wreak on the national stage.
Trump knows that Clarke will back bad policies that betray our values, harm our neighbors, and enforce policies that rip families apart. As Milwaukee County Sheriff, Clarke recklessly pursued joining the Trump administration in their implementation of 287(g), which gives local law enforcement the ability to operate as federal immigration agents. Many of our neighbors oppose the program as it allows law enforcement to stop and question people based on just their appearance.
It’s no wonder Clarke was seeking an escape from his Milwaukee County mess before the next election, as he is facing communitywide anger for his gross mismanagement of the Milwaukee County Jail, including the recent tragic death of Terrill Thomas by dehydration. In a span of just months, four families lost their loved ones due to Clarke’s negligence and lack of supervision over his department.
Clarke has a history of mocking, belittling and intimidating our neighbors. He is yet another bad actor in a cast of clowns.”
Rep. David Crowley (D-Milwaukee)
“It is a good day for the residents of Milwaukee County but an equally bad day for our nation. Through the efforts of thousands of Milwaukee citizens, local and state officials, and advocacy groups like Voces De La Frontera, Sheriff Clarke faced warranted scrutiny and saw the best way to make Milwaukee great again was to jump ship.
In his time as Milwaukee County Sheriff, David Clarke had 4 inmates die under his supervision, repeatedly made inappropriate and incendiary comments, promoted violence, and used threats and intimidation against innocent citizens. How could anyone possibly think that this would be a good candidate for any position in Homeland Security, let alone the Assistant Secretary? Unfortunately, a fearmongering loud voice promoting division and hatred is exactly the type of person that President Donald Trump is looking for. Today I join my city in rejoicing the resignation of Sheriff Clarke but my thoughts and prayers are with our nation.”
Rep. David Bowen (D-Milwaukee)
"The announcement that failed Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke is taking a bureaucratic job at a department within a department of the Republican Trump administration is proof that no amount of failure will stop the Republican President from rewarding devout loyalty.
It is positive news that Milwaukee County now has the opportunity to have an actual Sheriff. If he chooses to fill the role via appointment, Governor Walker should leave politics out of the equation and appoint a qualified individual who is devoted to the safety of Milwaukee County and takes the role of operating a jail seriously. Too many families have endured the nightmare of Sheriff Clarke's ongoing failure to do perhaps the most crucial aspect of the job - overseeing a jail at which 4 people have died on his watch, including a baby and an inmate suffering from serious mental health issues who died of "profound dehydration" after being forced to go without water for seven days under Clarke's oversight.
Notable about the Trump/Clarke appointment is that the administration was sure to offer a position at a low enough level that Senate confirmation is not required, as with higher level administration appointments," Bowen said. "Clearly, the political cost of any vulnerable Republican Senator voting to confirm Clarke would have been too high to rubber stamp the failed Sheriff.
Under the pressure of public accountability and the investigation of jail deaths on his watch, Sheriff Clarke will cut and run to Washington DC to join a President facing investigation for colluding with and serving up classified information to a foreign adversary.
Despite the Washington swamp filling up a little more under the Republican President, I am optimistic at the opportunity this presents the good people of Milwaukee County to move beyond the disastrous Clarke years."
Progressive Moms of Milwaukee
"Progressive Moms of Milwaukee, Uplifting Black Liberation and Community, and All People's Church stand united with the community seeking justice for those who have suffered at the hands of Sheriff Clarke. As the walls close in on him in the investigation into the deaths of four people under his watch, he cannot duck his sworn duty to the residents of Milwaukee County despite his silence and absence. Our nation is about to learn what we already know: Sheriff Clarke is all hat and no cattle."