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DHS declines to confirm Clarke appointment

18 May 2017

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, an African-American who became a staunch critic of the "Black Lives Matter" movement and supported Donald Trump's presidential campaign, said on Wednesday he has accepted a job as assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The Department of Homeland Security, created after the September 11, 2001, attacks on NY and the Pentagon, includes agencies that handle customs, border protection and immigration, the Coast Guard, the Transportation Security Administration and the Secret Service.

In the radio interview, Sheriff Clarke said his experience on the local level will allow him to relay the concerns of law enforcement to the federal government.

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Former DHS official Juliette Kayyem said that she held Clarke's position in the Obama administration said on Twitter, "I am floored".

In an emailed statement, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security said the position is a secretarial appointment, typically announced only when made official by the secretary. "No such announcement with regard to the Office of Public Engagement has been made", a spokeswoman said. A spokesman for the sheriff didn't immediately respond to messages.

Clarke made the announcement Wednesday afternoon on Vicki McKenna's show on WISN radio.

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Many nationwide have bristled at his harsh rhetoric, though he has also faced criticism in his current job, particularly over deaths at the Milwaukee County Jail. Seven jail staffers could face criminal charges after the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office outlined a case for the jury suggesting that disobedient inmates were routinely deprived of water as punishment and pleas for help were ignored. "That's important here", Clarke said. Though he has been sheriff since 2002, the self-proclaimed "People's Sheriff" has garnered a passionate conservative following on social media over the last couple years, and national television appearances followed.

In the election previous year when African-Americans largely opposed Trump, Clarke, who sometimes parades down the street on horseback, courted strong criticism from fellow blacks nationally for his support for the Republican.

Last year, the frequent Fox News guest earned more than $105,000 in speaking fees - nearly as much as his sheriff's salary - at more than three dozen events across the country.

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He's one of the most polarizing figures in Wisconsin politics. During one of those clashes in 2013, Clarke insulted Abele saying he had "penis envy".

DHS declines to confirm Clarke appointment