David Clarke (sheriff)

David Alexander Clarke Jr. (born August 21, 1956) is an American former law enforcement official who served as Sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin from 2002 to 2017. In 2002, Clarke was appointed to the position by Republican Governor Scott McCallum and later elected that same year to his first four-year term. He was reelected in November 2006, 2010 and 2014.[1] Although he ran as a Democrat in a heavily Democratic county, many of Clarke's political views align with those of conservative Republicans.[2][3] Clarke refused to join the Wisconsin Democratic party, raising doubts about his political motives.[4][5][6]

David Clarke
David Clarke by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg
Clarke in 2017
64th Sheriff of Milwaukee County
In office
March 19, 2002 – August 31, 2017
Preceded byLev Baldwin
Succeeded byRichard Schmidt (acting)
Personal details
David Alexander Clarke Jr.

(1956-08-21) August 21, 1956 (age 63)
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic[A]
Spouse(s)Julie Clarke (div. 2018)
EducationUniversity of Wisconsin,

Concordia University,
Naval Postgraduate School

While Sheriff of Milwaukee County, Clarke came under scrutiny for deaths and alleged mistreatment of the inhabitants of Milwaukee County jail facilities. One man died of thirst in what a coroner ruled was a homicide, and pregnant women were handcuffed and shackled while undergoing labor.

Clarke frequently appeared as a guest on Fox News through February 2018 and was a speaker at the 2016 Republican National Convention. He resigned as sheriff in August 2017.[7] A vocal supporter of President Donald Trump, Clarke was considered for a role in the Trump Administration. After resigning as Sheriff of Milwaukee County, Clarke joined the super PAC America First Action as a spokesman and senior advisor, serving until February 2019.

Early life, education, and early careerEdit

Clarke was born in Milwaukee, one of five children of Jeri and David Clarke Sr.[8] His father was a paratrooper with the 2nd Ranger Infantry Company. Clarke Jr. attended Marquette University High School where he played for the varsity basketball team.[8] After finishing high school, Clarke took classes at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee but dropped out during his first year when he got a job driving beer trucks.[8]

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.[8]

Clarke's career was not without controversy; in 1994, the mother of a 15-year-old boy filed a complaint alleging that Clarke used excessive force when arresting her son. According to public documents, Clarke was returning from a vacation when he spotted five teenagers heaving rocks at passing cars. Clarke chased down the teens, drew his service revolver and ordered them to lie on the ground. He admitted to using his foot to turn one boy over as he searched for weapons. The boy's mother claimed Clarke put a gun to her son's head and kicked him in the side, causing bruised ribs that required medical attention. However, the Fire and Police Commission ruled there was insufficient evidence to charge Clarke and dismissed the case.[8]

In 1999, Clarke received a B.A. in Management of Criminal Justice from Concordia University Wisconsin's School of Adult and Continuing Education.[9] In January 2002, Milwaukee County Sheriff Leverett F. (Lev) Baldwin resigned midway through his term to take a pension payout. Clarke was one of ten applicants for the position, and Governor Scott McCallum appointed him on March 19, 2002.[8] He was elected to a full term later in 2002, and was reelected in 2006, 2010, and 2014.[10]

Thesis plagiarismEdit

In 2013, Clarke received a master's degree in security studies from the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS). In May 2017, CNN reported that Clarke had plagiarized portions of the thesis he completed as part of the requirements for this degree, stating that in the thesis, "Clarke failed to properly attribute his sources at least 47 times."[11] The thesis ("Making U.S. security and privacy rights compatible"),[12] was found to have lifted material verbatim from several sources without proper citation, including reports by the American Civil Liberties Union, The 9/11 Commission Report, and George W. Bush's memoir Decision Points. Clarke provided footnotes to sources that he used, but did not properly place quotations around verbatim words of his sources, which is an act of plagiarism according to the Naval Postgraduate School.[11] Following the report, the Naval Postgraduate School removed the thesis from its online archive.[13] In response to the report, Clarke called journalist Andrew Kaczynski, who broke the story, a "sleaze bag" and denied that he had plagiarized.[14]

In a July 2017 letter to Clarke, the NPS's dean of students, Commander Paul Rasmussen, wrote that he concurred with the Honor Code Board that Clarke's thesis was "in violation" of the school's honor code but that the "violation was not a result of any intentional deception or misappropriation efforts." Rasmussen instructed Clarke to submit a revised thesis within 100 days or NPS would "initiate degree revocation."[15] According to news accounts in June 2018, Clarke received several extensions on the original deadline before submitting his revised thesis in March 2018.[16] On March 30, school officials informed him that his edits were satisfactory, and that he would be allowed to retain his degree.[17]

Political viewsEdit

Clarke has "built a following among conservatives with his provocative social media presence and strong support of Donald Trump."[18] His prominence as a right-wing firebrand has made him a controversial and polarizing figure.[19][20][21]

Planned ParenthoodEdit

He has criticized Planned Parenthood, suggesting instead that it be renamed "Planned Genocide."[22][23]

Comments on raceEdit

In 2015, Clarke received criticism for his statement on his podcast: "Let me tell you why blacks sell drugs and involve themselves in criminal behavior instead of a more socially acceptable lifestyle: because they're uneducated, they're lazy and they're morally bankrupt. That's why."[24]

In 2017, Clarke attracted attention and criticism for trading racial insults with Marc Lamont Hill, an African-American CNN commentator; on Twitter, Clarke used a racial slur ("jigaboo") to insult Hill.[25][26][27]

Black Lives MatterEdit

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.[28][29] Clarke denies that police officers are more willing to shoot black suspects than white suspects, has labeled BLM activists "subhuman creeps", and has called for the targeted eradication of the movement "from American society."[29] He has also claimed that Black Lives Matter would eventually join forces with ISIS in order to destroy American society.[30] He has urged the Southern Poverty Law Center to include BLM among the hate groups it monitors.[31] Clarke has blamed "liberal policies" for rioting and other issues in American cities.[32] Clarke's stance on the movement has been criticized by the Milwaukee chapter of the NAACP and other activists.[29]

Clarke has harshly criticized various black critics of police abuses.[33] He has called former Attorney General Eric Holder an "a[ss]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 reference to the Black Panthers in her halftime-show performance at the 2016 Super Bowl.[33]

Gun controlEdit

In January 2013, Clarke was featured on a series of public radio ads that said citizens could no longer rely on the police for timely protection and should arm themselves. Later that month, Clarke appeared on the CNN program Piers Morgan Live, with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who "said it was irresponsible of Clarke to 'basically imply' that it won't help citizens to call 911 when they need help."[34]

In 2015, Clarke traveled to Moscow on a $40,000 trip, with all expenses paid by the NRA, Pete Brownell (an NRA board member and CEO of a gun-parts supply company) and "The Right to Bear Arms," a Russian pro-firearms organization, founded by Maria Butina, a Russian national, who pleaded guilty in 2018 to being an unregistered Russian agent.[35][36][37][38] During the meeting, Clarke met the Russian foreign minister and attended a conference at which Russian official Aleksander Torshin, a close ally of Vladimir Putin, spoke.[37][38]

In 2018, Clarke attracted attention for using Twitter to promote a conspiracy theory about the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida; Clarke tweeted that "The well ORGANIZED effort by Florida school students demanding gun control has GEORGE SOROS' FINGERPRINTS all over it", suggesting that the students from Parkland were being manipulated by Soros to organize for gun control.[39][40][41]

Suspension of habeas corpus in the United StatesEdit

Clarke has called for the suspension of habeas corpus in the United States in a December 2015 appearance on his radio program, where he asserted that there were "hundreds of thousands" or "maybe a million" people who "have pledged allegiance or are supporting ISIS, giving aid and comfort," and stated that "our commander in chief ought to utilize Article I, Section 9" to imprison them at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp "and hold them indefinitely under a suspension of habeas corpus."[42][43]

Ideology and relationships with Republican and Democratic partiesEdit

Clarke holding up a copy of the United States Constitution

Clarke ran for sheriff as a Democrat,[44] which, according to Journal Sentinel reporter Daniel Bice, is advantageous in heavily Democratic Milwaukee County. However, Clarke is almost universally regarded as a conservative and has been referred to as "right of most righties."[2] Clarke frequently criticizes Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and other Democrats; often speaks at Republican events, and is allies with the National Rifle Association, which has raised funds for his re-election campaigns.[2] Clarke has in turn been criticized by the local Democratic Party.[45] On his website in 2014, Clarke stated that he questioned "why the Office of Sheriff is a partisan election" and wrote: "I have never asked a person to vote for me because I run as a Democrat. I ask them to vote for me based on my 35-year commitment to keeping citizens safe. Most voters get it when it comes to public safety. There is no Democrat or Republican way to be a sheriff. The enemy is not the opposing party; the enemy is the criminal."[44][46]

In 2016, Maurice Chammah of The Marshall Project characterized Clarke as an "iconoclastic sheriff," one of "a long line of controversy-courting lawmen" that includes Richard Mack and Joe Arpaio in Arizona.[47] Clarke attracted attention for "dalliances with the far right" over time including his acceptance in 2013 of the "Sheriff of the Year Award" from the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officers Association, a group of sheriffs founded by Mack that has been criticized by the Southern Poverty Law Center for espousing radical-right views.[48] Earlier the same year, Clarke appeared for an interview on the syndicated show of Alex Jones.[48]

Sheriff of MilwaukeeEdit

Budget and clashes with the Government of Milwaukee CountyEdit

Clarke has often clashed with the county government over the sheriff's office budget, engaging "in a long-running, high-profile tiff" over the issue with Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, "with Clarke providing the more incendiary rhetoric." Abele's proposed budget for 2014 would cut $12 million from the Sheriff's Office budget, eliminating 69 jobs and "shifting park patrols, emergency management, 911 communications and training divisions" to other entities, such as the Milwaukee Police Department, suburban police departments, and the county Department of Emergency Preparedness. Abele described the budget as a way to refocus the sheriff's office on "core, mandated services." Clarke issued a statement calling Abele a "vindictive little man" and saying that "Abele should be drug-tested. He has to be on heroin or hallucinating with that statement." Abele responded by saying that it was "unfortunate the sheriff, instead of engaging in thoughtful civil discourse, is making personal attacks and making light of a serious problem in our community and state."[49]

On another occasion, Clarke said that Abele had "penis envy."[45]

In 2015, Clarke clashed with Abele again after Clarke filed a lawsuit against the county over the sheriff's budget, seeking $25 million in funds to hire 75 deputies, 43 House of Corrections officers and 17 supervisors. Clarke argued that his office is underfunded by the county, while Abele noted that the sheriff's office had received the largest increase of any county department and criticized Clarke for having what he termed "a very heavy command staff," "a lot of unnecessary overtime," and redundancies in courthouse security.[50] Clarke sued Abele, alleging that he had violated Clarke's right to free speech through the budget process; a federal judge dismissed Clarke's suit in April 2016.[51]

A county audit released in 2012 showed that the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office used asset forfeiture funds to buy exercise equipment for Clarke's command staff, for a Disney training, and for a mounted patrol unit. The audit reported that the spending violated county procurement rules, although not federal rules on the use of seized money. Clarke was criticized for the amount of money spent on the mounted patrol by County Supervisor Patricia Jursik; Clarke defended the office's use of the funds.[52]

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.[51] Milwaukee County taxpayers paid the legal fees.[51] The county spent an additional $83,000 defending itself against Clarke's lawsuits.[51]

In 2012, the Milwaukee County Sheriff's office under Clarke spent $75,000 on an order of 565 new Glock handguns with "glow-in-the-dark" sights, "enough to outfit each of the department's 275 deputies with two of the popular guns and still have some left over."[53] The order was criticized as excessive by critics, including county Supervisor John Weishan Jr. (who said there "was absolutely no reason to justify" the purchase) and the Milwaukee County Deputy Sheriffs Association president (who said that he would have preferred the sheriff's department to use funds to re-hire laid-off deputies rather than to replace weapons).[53] Clarke declined to comment, but a department official defended the purchase.[53]

House of Correction and detainee abuse controversiesEdit

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.[52]

Clarke was repeatedly accused of abusing detainees at the county jail.[54] Following the deaths of four inmates at the jail in six months, the United States Department of Justice launched an investigation of the jail.[54] Milwaukee County chief medical examiner Brian Peterson accused Clarke of verbally harassing and threatening him in an October 2016 telephone conversation after Peterson's office made the mysterious deaths of two inmates at the jail earlier that year public.[54][55] According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Clarke also attracted attention for temper-related incidents: "He once berated a 911 dispatcher for not being professional, threatened to arrest the new House of Correction chief and called a sergeant a 'terrorist' and 'cancer' in a two-hour, expletive-filled rant".[55]

Death of Terrill ThomasEdit

The Milwaukee County Jail turned the water off to inmate Terrill Thomas's cell, resulting in his death by dehydration on April 24, 2016. According to inmates, the water was turned off for six days and the staff refused to provide water to Thomas. On September 15, 2016, the Milwaukee medical examiner ruled Thomas's death a homicide.[56] Later that day Clarke's office sent out a press release which stated it would be "withholding employee internal investigations and will not be commenting on this matter until the completion of all investigative and review processes, and any resultant civil litigation."[57][58] Clarke did not comment publicly on his agency's handling of Thomas's incarceration, but has highlighted Thomas's poor physical health and criminal history.[59][60]

In May 2017, after hearing six days of testimony at an inquest, a Milwaukee County jury found probable cause that seven jail employees (two supervisors, five officers) had committed a crime—specifically, abuse of a resident of a penal facility—and recommended that charges be brought.[61] In February 2018, three Milwaukee jail officers were charged with a felony in connection with Thomas's death. Clarke was not charged. District Attorney John T. Chisholm said "he believed his office had charged the people who were most culpable."[62]

In May 2019, Milwaukee County and the health care company Armor Correctional Health Services Inc. settled the lawsuit for $6.75 million, which is one of the largest settlements related to the death of an inmate in an American prison.[63]

Death of newborn and shackling of pregnant womenEdit

Clarke's department came under fire for its use of restraints on pregnant women inmates.[64][65] This controversial practice has been abolished or restricted by at least ten states and has been prohibited by the Wisconsin Department of Corrections[66] as well as by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.[64]

In 2014, a woman who was handcuffed and shackled for 21 hours while in labor sued the county.[64][66] In 2017, a second lawsuit was filed by another woman who was shackled while giving birth, and while hospitalized for prenatal care and postpartum treatment. The suit contends that the jail has a blanket policy of shackling all hospitalized inmates, "regardless of their criminal or medical history," and that at least 40 women were shackled in this manner.[64]

In June 2017, a federal jury awarded $6.7 million in a lawsuit by a woman who accused a Milwaukee County Jail guard of raping her on at least five occasions when she was 19 years old and pregnant.[67] Criminal charges of sexual assault had been dropped against the guard after he pled no contest to lesser charges in 2014.[68]

In July 2016, a pregnant inmate at the jail with serious mental illness went into labor and the newborn baby died. The mother filed a federal lawsuit against the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office, stating that she was denied medical attention before her pregnancy, had medical appointments canceled, received prenatal vitamins only once, and was "laughed at" by guards after going into labor.[69] This death and others at the jail prompted calls for Clarke's resignation from a county supervisor and several Democratic state legislators.[69]

Proselytism lawsuitEdit

In 2006, Clarke invited members of an Evangelical Christian organization, the Fellowship of Christian Centurions, to speak at several mandatory employee meetings, at which the group members proselytized. Several deputies complained about the Centurions' proselytizing, but Clarke refused to stop the presentations. The sheriff deputies' union and two individual sheriff's deputies (a Catholic and a Muslim) successfully sued Clarke in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. Clarke appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which upheld the lower court's ruling in 2009. The sheriff did not seek review in the U.S. Supreme Court.[70][71]

Airport harassment and abuse-of-power investigation and lawsuitEdit

In February 2017, a Detroit-area man, Dan Black, filed a harassment lawsuit against Clarke after Milwaukee deputies detained the man at the Milwaukee airport in January. The man had asked Clarke about his football team preference and shook his head at Clarke.[72] On the tarmac, Clarke sent text messages to one of his captains, Mark Witek, directing sheriffs' deputies to detain Black. Clarke wrote: "Question for him is why he said anything to me. Why didn't he just keep his mouth shut? Follow him to baggage and out the door. You can escort me to carousel after I point him out."[73] After arriving at the airport, Black was "met by a group of six uniformed deputies and two dogs, all of whom were accompanied by the sheriff" who questioned him before releasing him.[72] Airport surveillance video showed Black telling deputies: "He [Clarke] thinks because I asked who he is, he can exert that kind of power over me."[74] Local media reported that "at least one of the deputies who was ordered to confront Black didn't believe he had been disruptive."[74]

After Black filed a complaint with Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office, Clarke responded by taunting and threatening Black via Facebook.[75][72] Black's counsel states that Clarke engaged in a "gross and arbitrary abuse of power" and ordered an unlawful stop and detention.[75] An ensuing civil lawsuit by Black resulted in 2018 in a verdict in Clarke's favor; the jury found that Clarke's Facebook posts did not chill Black's exercise of his First Amendment rights.[76]

The incident drew national attention, prompting federal investigations to examine Clarke's conduct.[73] In a May 2017 letter, the U.S. Attorney's Office declined to prosecute Clarke for federal civil-rights offenses, writing: "Our decision is not meant to affirm the wisdom or propriety of what occurred. It reflects only our belief that it would be difficult or impossible to prove a violation of the only federal statute available to us ... beyond a reasonable doubt."[73]

Milwaukee County auditors launched an investigation into whether Clarke abused taxpayer resources during the airport incident.[72] Clarke refused to cooperate with the investigation,[73] and blocked auditors from interviewing Milwaukee County sheriff's deputies.[72] Clarke's refusal to cooperate in the investigation prompted the Milwaukee County Board to authorize legal action against Clarke on the issue.[72] An affidavit filed by the FBI in March 2017 (and made public in December 2017) indicated that "investigators for the Audit Services Division of the Milwaukee County controller's office determined as part of its own investigation that Clarke had 'used his official position as sheriff of Milwaukee County in excess of his lawful authority to direct his deputies to stop and question Black without legal justification.'"[77]

Approval ratingsEdit

In a January 2017 poll conducted by Public Policy Polling, which surveyed Milwaukee County voters, 31% approved of the job Clarke was doing, compared to 62% who disapproved. In the same poll, 65% said they believed Clarke had a negative impact on the image of Milwaukee County, and among registered Democrats, 13% said they would vote for Clarke in a hypothetical Democratic primary, compared to 82% who would prefer another candidate.[78]

Donald Trump support and possible role in Trump administrationEdit

Clarke is a strong supporter of Republican Donald Trump, saying during Trump's 2016 presidential campaign that he would "do everything I can" to help Trump win the presidency.[79] Clarke spoke at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio.[80] In October 2016, Clarke tweeted, "It's incredible that our institutions of gov, WH, Congress, DOJ, and big media are corrupt & all we do is bitch. Pitchforks and torches time." with an attached photo of an angry mob holding pitchforks and torches.[81][82] Clarke met with Trump, when Trump was president-elect, about a possible position in his administration.[83]

In May 2017, Clarke said in a radio interview that he would take the post of Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Partnership and Engagement in the Trump administration. The White House declined to comment, and the Department of Homeland Security stated that no appointment had been officially made. The position does not require Senate confirmation.[18][84]

The DHS did not say whether the appointment was actually offered to Clarke.[85] Following a CNN report on plagiarism in his master's thesis, Clarke said that he was unsure if the Trump administration would hire him.[86]

The prospective appointment of Clarke was criticized by Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele; former Homeland Security official Juliette Kayyem; and California Senator Kamala Harris, who sits on the Senate Homeland Security Committee. Harris wrote that "Clarke's unconscionable record makes him unfit to serve" and that the "appointment is a disgrace."[84] On June 17, Clarke rescinded his acceptance of the post.[87] John F. Kelly, who had been the Secretary of Homeland Security at the time, told Clarke that he would not be given a position at the DHS in part due to scandal surrounding the treatment of inmates in Clarke's jail and the ensuing negative media attention.[88]


On August 31, 2017, Clarke resigned his position.[89][90] News reports several days later indicated that Clarke would join the pro-Donald Trump Super PAC America First Action as a spokesman and senior advisor.[91]

Persona, media appearances, and travelEdit

Clarke on horseback at the 2008 Milwaukee St. Patrick's Day parade

Clarke frequently appears at public events on horseback wearing a cowboy hat.[45] He often wears 20 or more pins and badges on his uniform when in public, many not of official meaning or purpose, leading to accusations of "stolen valor" (i.e., trying to create the image of heroic accomplishments).[92][93]

Clarke "has become a fixture of conservative media" and in 2015 began hosting a podcast talk show, David Clarke: The People's Sheriff, on Glenn Beck's TheBlaze Radio Network,[33][94] where he has expressed support for the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.[95] Clarke also frequently appeared as a guest on Fox News, and on one occasion in September 2015 guest-hosted The Sean Hannity Show.[33] However, in March 2019, The Daily Beast reported that Clarke had essentially been banned from Fox News and that he had not appeared on Fox News since February 2018.[96] He also appeared on CNN, Fox News, and other major news outlets to discuss ongoing police controversies.[32]

Clarke's higher profile coincided with an increase in his speaking fees and time spent outside Milwaukee County on outside activities.[97] In 2015 financial disclosure documents, Clarke reported receiving $150,000 in speaking fees, travel reimbursements, gifts and other items;[97] in 2016, he received $220,000 worth of such items.[98] Also in 2016, Clarke spent about 60 days traveling or attending events, 59 of them outside Wisconsin.[98] Clarke's absences from the county, as well as redactions in his official schedule as provided to journalists who made public-records requests, led to "increasing scrutiny over his job performance" from local media outlets and criticism from the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council.[99] Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele has repeatedly criticized Clarke's absences from the county.[98][100]

In January 2018, Clarke was temporarily suspended by Twitter after posting three messages appearing to encourage violence against the media, including a tweet reading "Punch them in the nose & MAKE THEM TASTE THEIR OWN BLOOD." Clarke was unblocked by Twitter after deleting the posts.[101][102]

In March 2020, Twitter deleted three of Clarke’s posts urging people to ignore official warnings related to the COVID-19 pandemic, because the tweets violated the platform’s policy against encouraging self-harm. Clarke responded by labeling Twitter administrators "totalitarian bigots'. [103][better source needed] One of his tweets proclaimed that coronavirus was "just the damn flu", despite the death rate among COVID-19 victims being 23 to 68 times higher than that of flu sufferers.[104]

Potential mayoral runEdit

In January 2014, Clarke announced he was considering a run for mayor of Milwaukee in 2016,[105] but ultimately decided not to run,[106] instead endorsing Republican Alderman Bob Donovan's unsuccessful bid to unseat Mayor Tom Barrett.[107] [108]


In 2017, Clarke published a book titled Cop Under Fire: Moving Beyond Hashtags of Race, Crime and Politics for a Better America.[109][110] The book was promoted by President Donald Trump on Twitter.[111]

Electoral historyEdit

Personal lifeEdit

Clarke married his wife Julie in 1996; she was a court clerk and later a real estate agent. They lived on the northwest side of Milwaukee. In 2018, Clarke filed for divorce from his wife.[41]


  1. ^ Clarke served as the Sheriff of Milwaukee from 2002 to 2017 as a Democrat.


  1. ^ "Meet the Sheriff". county.milwaukee.gov. Retrieved 2017-05-01.
  2. ^ a b c Daniel Bice, Does anyone still think Sheriff David Clarke is a Democrat? Apparently, one, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (July 27, 2014).
  3. ^ Gun fight? National political donors spend hundreds of thousands on local Milwaukee sheriff's race, Fox News (August 12, 2014).
  4. ^ Chandler, Kurt. "The New Black Power: A Profile of Sheriff David Clarke". Milwaukee Magazine. Retrieved 21 March 2020.
  5. ^ McNally, Joel (5 September 2017). "The 'Terrible Man Theory' of David Clarke". Shepherd Express. Retrieved 21 March 2020.
  6. ^ Murphy, Bruce (18 October 2016). "David Clarke the Demagogue". Retrieved 21 March 2020.
  7. ^ Schmidt, Richard. "David A. Clarke Jr. resigns as Milwaukee County sheriff". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 1 September 2017.
  8. ^ a b c d e f Kurt Chandler, The New Black Power, Milwaukee Magazine (July 25, 2003).
  9. ^ Milwaukee Sheriff, CU Alum Receives Award Archived 2016-10-17 at the Wayback Machine (press release), Concordia University Wisconsin (April 1, 2016).
  10. ^ Strupp, Joe (March 28, 2017). "Milwaukee journalists: Sheriff David Clarke is "missing in action"". Salon.com. San Francisco, CA. Media Matters.
  11. ^ a b Kaczynski, Andrew; Massie, Christopher; McDermott, Nathan (May 20, 2017). "Sheriff David Clarke plagiarized portions of his master's thesis on homeland security". CNN. Archived from the original on May 21, 2017.
  12. ^ Clarke, David A. (September 2013). "Making U.S. security and privacy rights compatible" (PDF). Calhoun: Institutional Archive of the Naval Postgraduate School. Archived from the original (PDF) on May 21, 2017 – via DocumentCloud.
  13. ^ John Fauber, Report: Sheriff David Clarke plagiarized parts of homeland security thesis, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (May 21, 2017): "the Naval Postgraduate School removed Clarke's thesis from its website and replaced it with the following note: 'This item was removed from view at the discretion of the Naval Postgraduate School.'"
  14. ^ Hayden, Michael Edison (May 21, 2017). "Sheriff David Clarke denies plagiarism, calls reporter a 'sleaze bag'". ABC News. Retrieved May 21, 2017. Guy is a sleaze bag," Clarke wrote in a post that linked to a story in which Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky pushed back against a Kaczynski-authored story for Buzzfeed News, in which he was accused of using disputed quotes. "I'm on to him folks.
  15. ^ Chris Massie & Andrew Kaczynski, Former Sheriff David Clarke must revise thesis or risk losing degree, docs reveal, CNN (September 15, 2017).
  16. ^ Massie, Chris; McDermott, Nathan; Kaczynski, Andrew (June 15, 2018). "Emails show former Sheriff David Clarke's tense and protracted process to retain master's degree". CNN. Atlanta, GA.
  17. ^ "Emails show former Sheriff David Clarke's tense and protracted process to retain master's degree".
  18. ^ a b Ivan Moreno, Firebrand Milwaukee sheriff takes job with Homeland Security, Associated Press (May 17, 2017).
  19. ^ Alex Yablon, Trump Taps David Clarke, a Staunch NRA Ally, For Homeland Security Post: The Milwaukee lawman joined the gun group's junket to Russia, while compiling accusations of negligence and abuses of power at home, The Trace (May 17, 2017).
  20. ^ Milwaukee sheriff's star rises, but he remains polarizing, Chicago Tribune news services (February 5, 2017).
  21. ^ Wesley Lowery & Lisa Rein, Controversial Milwaukee sheriff David Clarke says he’ll be appointed to high-ranking DHS post, but agency has not confirmed, Washington Post (May 17, 2017).
  22. ^ Ford, Matt. "Sheriff Clarke Gets a Job in the Trump Administration". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2017-05-17. Clarke’s opining often went beyond policing issues: On his podcast, he referred to Planned Parenthood as "Planned Genocide" and American higher education as "a racketeering ring."
  23. ^ Chammah, Maurice. "American Sheriff". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2017-05-17.
  24. ^ Kertscher, Tom. "Which black people did David Clarke call uneducated, lazy and morally bankrupt?". Politifact. Retrieved 17 Nov 2015.
  25. ^ Alex Griswold, CNN's Marc Lamont Hill, Sheriff David Clarke Fling Racial Slurs at Each Other on Twitter, (January 17, 2017).
  26. ^ Theo Keith, Milwaukee County launches investigation of Sheriff Clarke over airplane complaint, Clarke says it's a "witch hunt", WITI (January 25, 2017).
  27. ^ D.L. Hughley, David Clarke and Marc Lamont Hill Trade Insults with Each Other, WZAK.
  28. ^ David Clarke, It's time to stand up to Black Lives Matter, Fox News (July 11, 2016).
  29. ^ a b c Brendan O'Brien, Black Milwaukee sheriff takes on Black Lives Matter movement, Reuters (February 27, 2016).
  30. ^ David Clarke, Before long, Black Lies Matter will join forces with ISIS to being down our legal constituted republic. You heard it first here., Twitter (October 27, 2015).
  31. ^ J.F. (18 August 2017). "The misplaced arguments against Black Lives Matter". The Economist. Retrieved 20 August 2017.
  32. ^ a b Sabina, Carmine (28 April 2015). "Sheriff Clarke: Why are we surprised at sub-human behavior in American ghettos? Lib policies created it". Bizpac Review. Retrieved 18 July 2016.
  33. ^ a b c d Maurice Chammah, American Sheriff: David Clarke, the Trump-loving, pro-mass-incarceration, Fox News favorite, is challenging criminal-justice reform—and stereotypes, The Atlantic (May 5, 2016).
  34. ^ "David Clarke, Tom Barrett square off over guns on CNN". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 2014-03-30.
  35. ^ Prosecutors seek 18-month sentence for Maria Butina in Russian plot to forge ties to U.S. conservative groups, Washington Post (April 19, 2019): "Capitalizing on her novelty as a Siberian-born gun activist in restrictive Russia, Butina and Torshin invited NRA leaders to Moscow in December 2015, including Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke and David Keene, a former NRA president and past head of the powerful American Conservative Union."
  36. ^ Daniel Bice (March 13, 2017). "Sen. Tammy Baldwin says Sheriff David Clarke is being 'groomed' for Senate bid". Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.
  37. ^ a b Cliff Schecter (December 5, 2016). "How David Clarke Bridges Donald Trump's Gun Nuts and Vladimir Putin's Kleptocrats". The Daily Beast.
  38. ^ a b Rosalind S. Helderman & Tom Hamburger (April 30, 2017). "Guns and religion: How American conservatives grew closer to Putin's Russia".
  39. ^ Keneally, Meghan (February 22, 2018). "After school shooting, breaking down the conspiracy theories facing Parkland students". ABC News. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  40. ^ Bowden, John (February 21, 2018). "David Clarke: Fla. students' gun control push has 'George Soros' fingerprints all over it'". The Hill. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  41. ^ a b Daniel Bice, Former Sheriff David Clarke files for divorce in Milwaukee County, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (February 23, 2018).
  42. ^ Jeremy Stahl, Potential Homeland Security Pick Wanted to Suspend Habeas Corpus, Jail One Million, Slate (November 29, 2016).
  43. ^ Pema Levy, Potential Trump Pick for Homeland Security Wants to Send up to 1 Million People to Gitmo, Mother Jones (November 28, 2016).
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  49. ^ Steve Schultze. "Abele wants to cut Clarke's budget; sheriff calls exec 'vindictive little man'". Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
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  51. ^ a b c d Milwaukee County pays high price for sheriff's lawsuits, Associated Press (April 23, 2016).
  52. ^ a b Steve Schultze, Clarke spent asset forfeitures on workout equipment, horse patrol, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (September 28, 2012).
  53. ^ a b c Steve Schultze, Sheriff's office orders Glocks in bulk: Critics say 565-gun purchase seems excessive; department disagrees, says it got a great deal, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (July 15, 2012).
  54. ^ a b c Jason Silverstein, Dozens of Milwaukee County Jail inmates had been forced to give birth while shackled, lawsuit alleges, New York Daily News (March 19, 2017).
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  56. ^ Eric M. Johnson (September 15, 2017). "A black Wisconsin inmate's death by dehydration ruled a homicide". Reuters.
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  58. ^ "MCSO Release Related to MCMEO Updated Finding in Terrill Thomas In-Custody Death" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on December 19, 2016. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
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  61. ^ Terrill Thomas Case: Milwaukee Jury Wants Charges Because Inmate Died After Week Without Water, Associated Press (May 2, 2017).
  62. ^ Smith, Mitch (February 12, 2018). "Three Milwaukee Jail Officers Charged in Dehydration Death". New York Times. Retrieved 1 March 2018.
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  64. ^ a b c d Lawsuit says woman was shackled while giving birth at Milwaukee County Jail, Associated Press/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (March 16, 2017).
  65. ^ Tess Owen, Sheriff David Clarke’s jail employees should be charged in inmate’s dehydration death, jury says, VICE News (May 2, 2017).
  66. ^ a b Gina Barton, Victim in alleged assault at jail sues Milwaukee County, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (February 22, 2014).
  67. ^ Katie Mettler (June 8, 2017). "Jury Awards $6,700,000 to Inmate Raped Repeatedly by Guard in Sheriff David Clarke's Jail". Washington Post.
  68. ^ "Sex assault charges dropped against former jail guard". Retrieved 2017-06-11.
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  71. ^ Milwaukee Deputy Sheriffs Ass'n v. Clarke, 588 F.3d 523 (7th Cir. 2009), aff'g 513 F.Supp.2d 1014 (E.D. Wis. 2007).
  72. ^ a b c d e f Daniel Bice, Auditors want to sue Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke for blocking probe, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (April 6, 2017): "Clarke later taunted and threatened Black in posts on his county Facebook page and on Twitter."
  73. ^ a b c d Daniel Bice, Sheriff Clarke directed staff to hassle plane passenger after brief exchange, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (May 25, 2017).
  74. ^ a b Terry Sater, Sheriff's text to deputies about passenger on plane: Follow him out of airport, WISN (May 25, 2017).
  75. ^ a b "Riverwest man files lawsuit against Sheriff David Clarke". WISN. 2017-02-03. Retrieved 2017-02-14. Black filed a complaint with Milwaukee County a few weeks. Clarke responded by threatening Black on Facebook, saying, 'Next time he or anyone else pulls this stunt on a plane, they may get knocked out. The sheriff said he does not have to wait for some goof to assault him. He reserves the reasonable right to pre-empt a possible assault.'
  76. ^ Bruce Vielmetti, Jury rules for former Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. in Facebook post case, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (January 23, 2018).
  77. ^ Mary Papenfuss, FBI Affidavit Details Ex-Sheriff David Clarke's Intimidation of Fellow Passenger, Huffington Post (December 30, 2017).
  78. ^ Jensen, Tom (January 31, 2017). "Milwaukee County Survey Results" (PDF). Public Policy Polling. Retrieved April 23, 2017.
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  81. ^ David A. Clarke [@SheriffClarke] (October 15, 2016). "It's incredible that our institutions of gov, WH, Congress, DOJ, and big media are corrupt & all we do is bitch. Pitchforks and torches time" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
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  85. ^ David Shortell, Milwaukee County Sheriff Clarke says he's accepted DHS job -- but was it offered?, CNN (May 18, 2017).
  86. ^ Nathan McDermott & Andrew Kaczynski, Sheriff David Clarke says he's unsure if Trump administration will still hire him after plagiarism report, CNN (May 23, 2017).
  87. ^ Abby Phillip, Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke rescinds acceptance of Homeland Security post, CNN (June 17, 2017).
  88. ^ Markay, Lachlan; Suebsaeng, Asawin (September 5, 2017). "Sheriff Clarke Was in Talks for a Trump White House Job—Then John Kelly Killed It". The Daily Beast. Retrieved September 7, 2017.
  89. ^ Daniel Bice, David A. Clarke Jr. resigns as Milwaukee County sheriff, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (August 31, 2017).
  90. ^ Andrew deGrandpre, David A. Clarke Jr. resigns as Milwaukee County Sheriff, Washington Post (August 31, 2017).
  91. ^ Bice, Daniel (September 5, 2017). "Ex-Sheriff David Clarke to work for Trump PAC". Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Milwaukee, WI.
  92. ^ "FACT CHECK: Does Sheriff David Clarke Wear 'Fake' Military Medals?". Snopes.com. 2017-05-23. Retrieved 2017-05-27.
  93. ^ "Analysis: Here's what the pins that Sheriff Clarke wears actually mean". Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-05-27.
  94. ^ "'The People's Sheriff' Is the Latest Addition to TheBlaze Radio Network". TheBlaze. 2015-06-02.
  95. ^ "A rational defense of Ammon Bundy and the Oregon Occupation: Sheriff David Clarke". 3 Feb 2016.
  96. ^ Maxwell Tani & Asawin Suebsaeng (2019-03-06). "Fox News Quietly Ditched Trump-Loving Sheriff David Clarke". Retrieved 2019-03-16.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  97. ^ a b Daniel Bice, As Sheriff Clarke's profile soars, gifts roll in, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (September 17, 2016).
  98. ^ a b c Theo Keith, Documents show Sheriff Clarke brought in $220K in speaking fees, gifts, travel reimbursements in 2016, WITI-TV (February 1, 2017).
  99. ^ Theo Keith, Sheriff David Clarke flies the country, avoids questions, redacts records in his official schedule, WITI-TV (May 25, 2017).
  100. ^ Video: Milwaukee County exec says Sheriff David Clarke not 'an active manager', WisconsinEye (July 13, 2017).
  101. ^ Former Sheriff David Clarke temporarily blocked from tweeting due to his caustic threats, Wisconsin Gazette (January 5, 2018).
  102. ^ Jake Tapper, Sheriff David Clarke temporarily blocked on Twitter after violating terms of service, CNN (January 2, 2018).
  103. ^ "It's Hard to Believe David A. Clarke Was Recommended for a Real Job in Homeland Security".
  104. ^ Litke, Eric (19 March 2020). "David A. Clarke Jr. Says coronavirus is just "the damn flu."". Politifact. Retrieved 20 March 2020.
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  106. ^ "Sheriff David Clarke will not run for MKE Mayor in '16". News/Talk 1130 WISN. December 2, 2015.
  107. ^ Spicuzza, Mary (April 6, 2016). "Mayor Barrett wins easy re-election victory over Donovan". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
  108. ^ "Race for mayor of Milwaukee: Big endorsements for incumbent Tom Barrett, challenger Bob Donovan". Fox 6 TV. March 16, 2016.
  109. ^ Bergquist, Lee (August 27, 2017). "Trump tweets that Sheriff David Clarke's book is 'a great book by a great guy'". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved 1 March 2018.
  110. ^ Savransky, Rebecca (August 27, 2017). "Trump promotes book by Sheriff David Clarke". The Hill. Retrieved 1 March 2018.
  111. ^ Wigglesworth, Alex (August 27, 2017). "Trump promotes book by controversial sheriff and campaign supporter". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 1 March 2018.

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