On 17 May 2017, Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke said he will be accepting a position offered to him as an assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security, where he expects to start in June 2017.
Clarke, an outspoken supporter of President Donald Trump, started his career in law enforcement with the Milwaukee Police Department in 1978, where he worked his way up to the rank of captain. He left in 2002 to become sheriff of Milwaukee County. He is a controversial figure known for making outrageous remarks in the news media. During the months leading up to the 2016 presidential election, Clarke traveled the country stumping for now-President Trump.
DHS has not confirmed that Clarke has been offered a position with the department. On 17 May 2017, the department’s official Twitter account posted:
[Senior] positions are announced when made official by the [Secretary]. No such announcement w/ regard to the Office of Public Engagement has been made.
Clarke is currently the target of multiple lawsuits in Milwaukee County that accuse him of harassing a private citizen, and his staff of abusing inmates in his jails. Seven of his employees face potential criminal charges for turning off the water in a man’s cell for a week in 2016, causing him to die of dehydration. Clarke has also been scrutinized for a trip to Russia in 2015, now that multiple investigations into the president’s dealings with the Russian government are underway.
One of the lawsuits came from the death of a newborn baby, who apparently died after her mother gave birth alone in a cell. In another, a Milwaukee man accused Clarke of illegally detaining him and harassing him online, all because he made a slighting gesture toward the sheriff about the sports team jersey he was wearing.
In a third, a 38-year-old mentally ill man died of “profound” dehydration after being denied water for a week inside Clarke’s jail. On 24 April 2016, Milwaukee firefighters responded to the county jail and found Terrill Thomas naked and in a state of rigor mortis on the floor of his cell, according to the lawsuit complaint.