Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke, who announced in a radio interview today he’s leaving his post to join the Trump administration, said he has several people in mind to replace him.
A Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman did not confirm Clarke’s appointment.
Clarke told conservative talk show host Vicki McKenna while the ultimate decision on a replacement will be up to Gov. Scott Walker, he hopes to have input on the decision because he’s the one who won his latest four-year term, which ends in early 2019.
“Ultimately, the decision will be his,” said Clarke, who’s going to the Department of Homeland Security. “But at the same time, it is for the remainder of my term. I don’t own this office. But I own these next 18 months.”
A Walker spokesman said the process to replace Clarke will not begin until a resignation letter has been received, and one was not yet in as of this afternoon.
Clarke has been under fire in recent months for problems at the county jail as well as his frequent absences as he has become a national media figure. He has openly said for months he would serve in the Trump administration if asked.
A DHS spokeswoman wrote in an email the position is a secretarial appointment.
“Such senior positions are announced by the Department when made official by the Secretary. No such announcement with regard to the Office of Public Engagement has been made,” the spokeswoman wrote.
Reports first surfaced in late April that Clarke was under consideration to be assistant secretary at the Department of Homeland Security Office of Partnership and Engagement. In the post, which does not require Senate confirmation, he will oversee outreach to state, local and tribal law enforcement.
Clarke toldi McKenna his focus will be on serving as a liaison between the federal agency and local law enforcement officials, which he said often feel the government is dictating to them.
Clarke said he wants to ensure communicating is a two-way street between them and will keep Secretary John Kelly apprised of what’s going on with local law enforcement.
“That’s my biggest role to keep him informed of what’s going on at ground level,” Clarke said.
Milwaukee County Exec Chris Abele, who has frequently clashed with Clarke, slammed the appointment. Still, he added it means an opportunity to work with someone who actually cares about addressing racial disparities in Milwaukee.
“For the country I love, the last thing America needs is another loud voice angrily and unproductively telling you who to blame and who not to trust,” Abele said.
Earnell Lucas, who helps run security for Major League Baseball and had already announced plans to challenge Clarke in 2018, said he will apply for the gubernatorial appointment to fill out the term and still intends to run next year for a full term.