MILWAUKEE — A Democratic state lawmaker wants Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to remove Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke from office, citing the deaths of four people at his jail last year and "repeated inappropriate" comments. But Governor Scott Walker, the one person who could boot Clarke from office isn't interested in taking action.
Milwaukee Rep. David Crowley called for Clarke's removal in a letter Monday, January 23rd. Crowley is the fourth such lawmaker from Milwaukee to make such a statement. The others are Senator Chris Larson and Rep. Jonathan Brostoff and Christine Sinicki.
According to state law, Governor Walker is the only one, other than voters, with the power to remove Clarke.
"The behavior of the sheriff the last couple of months has been out of control. Constituents can recall him if they want to, but Wisconsin statutes state that the governor can remove the sheriff if he feels there is cause to. And there is cause!" Rep. Crowley said.
Last week, a Milwaukee resident claimed Clarke had deputies question him for 15 minutes because he shook his head at Clarke while boarding a plane -- during a flight from Dallas to Milwaukee. Clarke responded to the complaint by saying the next time someone does something similar "they may get knocked out."
After the incident at the airport, the Milwaukee Coalition against Trump demanded Clarke apologize -- criticizing Sheriff Clarke.
When asked for his response to the criticism, the below was posted to the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office's Facebook page.
An attorney representing Dan Black released this statement:
I represent Dan Black, who is being harassed by Sheriff David Clarke. My statement is below.
Citizens should be able to complain about public officials without fear of retaliation. Sheriff Clarke's statements are coldly calculated to intimidate Mr. Black with physical violence for engaging in Constitutionally protected activity. Law enforcement simply do not have license to beat up citizens for whatever perceived slight. Mr. Black will preemptively stop Sheriff Clarke's attacks with the full force of the legal system. In addition to protecting Mr. Black’s rights, we will work to ensure that Mr. Black is safe from the dangers caused by Sheriff Clarke’s promotion of violence.
William F. Sulton, Esq.
The jail deaths are under investigation.
Clarke has gained a national profile as an outspoken supporter of President Donald Trump and has been mentioned as a possible candidate in his administration.
Over the weekend, Clarke on Twitter was critical of those who took part in the Women's March on Washington on Saturday, January 21st.
"It`s time for him to feel the wrath of the people of Milwaukee County and be removed from office," Crowley said.
Walker says Clarke and elected officials are "ultimately accountable to the people."
"Any position, be it sheriff or any others, where they're elected by the people, they're ultimately accountable to the people and the only time historically a governor has gotten involved in any of those constitutional offices is if someone has clearly violated the law. It's really ultimately up to the people. When the people elect someone -- agree or disagree with everything they do or say -- I believe it should ultimately be left up to the people of that jurisdiction," Walker said.
According to the Wisconsin Legislative Council, Governor Walker has the authority to remove county officials for specific reasons: "The statutes also provide the Governor with authority to remove particular county officials for specific reasons. The Governor has statutory authority to remove the district attorney, sheriff, coroner, or register of deeds “for cause.” This means that the official may be removed for inefficiency, neglect of duty, official misconduct, or malfeasance in office."
FOX6 News reached out to the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office for comment on Rep. Crowley's letter to the governor.
In a statement, a spokesman for Sheriff Clarke said: "Sheriff doesn't even know who that clown is."