The Weekly Rewind fact checks Sheriff David Clarke Jr.
David Alexander Clarke Jr. (born August 21, 1956) is the 64th Sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. In 2002, Clarke was appointed to a vacancy by Governor Scott McCallum, and later elected that same year to his first four-year term. He was re-elected in November 2006, 2010, and 2014, and is currently serving his fourth full term. Although registered and elected as a Democrat in a heavily Democratic county, Clarke’s political views align with deeply conservative Republicans. Clarke frequently appears as a guest on Fox News and was a speaker at the 2016 Republican National Convention.
His career in law enforcement began in 1978 at the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD). He “rose through the ranks at a slow but steady pace in his 24 years with the department.” Clarke was a patrol officer for eleven years and then a homicide detective; he was promoted to lieutenant of detectives in 1993 and captain in 1999. According to an Associated Press tally, from 2012 to April 2016, Clarke had incurred more than $310,000 in legal fees for his private attorney, who represented him in litigation against Milwaukee County. Milwaukee County taxpayers paid the legal fees. The county spent an additional $83,000 defending itself against Clarke’s lawsuits. In January 2008, a National Institute of Corrections audit of the Milwaukee County House of Correction in Franklin identified 44 areas of concern, calling the House of Correction “dysfunctional” and determining that it suffered from “serious security, staff morale and management flaws.” The House of Corrections was at the time a separate Milwaukee County department overseen by a superintendent who reported to then Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker. Walker and the County Board transferred control over the House to the Sheriff’s Department under Clarke on January 1, 2009. The House’s former work-release center was transferred to the Milwaukee County Jail. Clarke received praise for rapidly correcting many of the issues identified in the report. Clarke is registered as a Democrat, which, according to Journal Sentinel reporter Daniel Bice, is advantageous in heavily Democratic Milwaukee County.
Clarke is a frequent and vociferous critic of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, referring to it as “Black Lies Matter” and describing the movement as a hate group. Clarke denies that cops are more willing to shoot black suspects than white suspects, has labeled BLM activists “subhuman creeps”, and has called for the eradication of the movement “from American society”. Clarke has harshly criticized various black critics of police abuses. He has called former Attorney General Eric Holder an “a-hole” and accused him in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee of “outright hostility” toward police; referred to Al Sharpton as a “charlatan”; and criticized Beyoncé for her referencing Black Panthers in her halftime show performance at the 2016 Super Bowl. He has also frequently clashed with Milwaukee Democratic African-American political leadership. One state legislator, Mandela Barnes, once controversially said of Clarke, “I don’t even accept him as black.”
In 2015, Clarke traveled privately to Moscow, his expenses covered by the Russian Organization “The Right to Bear Arms”. Clarke said little publicly about the event. Two weeks earlier, his office put out a vague press release noting that he would “travel to the Middle East and Asia beginning November 28, 2015 and returning December 13, 2015,” including that he’d “receive briefings on issues facing those regions and visit historic sites.” But the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Daniel Bice noticed that Clarke’s January 2016 ethics disclosure filing shed some light on the trip. Part one was $20,155 trip to Israel, paid for by the NRA Ring of Freedom. During his week-plus of travel there, he did a remote interview from Jerusalem for Fox Business Network. The remaining days were spent in Russia. His airfare to Moscow and visas, totaling $13,785.10, were paid for by Brownell; his $6000 worth of meals, hotel, transportation, and excursions were provided by the “All-Russia Public Organization ‘The Right to Bear Arms.’ Clarke’s office declined to release any records to Bice about the trip, the reporter wrote, “saying it was personal — not official — travel, even though personal trips (a.k.a. vacations) are not supposed to be listed on the ethics form.”
Clarke opposes government-funded drug rehabilitation programs and has criticized efforts to shift drug offenders to drug-treatment programs instead of jail or prison, saying: “Those programs de-motivate people to address their own problems. So don’t expect me to pay for your drug rehab. Find your own through the private sector.”
All in all David Clarke aligns himself with the far right and has deeply conservative views. His views are seen as borderline racist and we have yet to see him engage in debate supporting minorities and the underprivileged in any way. Does the sheriff believe in the rhetoric he preaches? I would say yes. Is his rhetoric fueled by racism? I would definitely say yes. David Clarke if I’m smoking a marlboro and wearing cowboy boots can I get a get out of jail free card?