Sheriff David Clarke, the infamous Trump supporter from Milwaukee County, is being sued by his own county’s Board of Supervisors. They unanimously approved $35,000 for private attorneys yesterday so the county can move forward in a lawsuit against him for blocking an investigation.
The director of the county’s Audit Services Division, Jerry Heer, has said that Clarke would not allow auditors to interview his deputies. That goes directly against a resolution from 2015 that should allow auditors to interview any county employee they deem necessary as part of an investigation. He did not specify which investigation Clarke is blocking, but the division is currently investigating a harassment complaint against Clarke and conducting an audit of four inmate deaths in 2016.
“We’ll see them in court, all the way up to the State Supreme Court if necessary,” Clarke said in a statement through his spokeswoman, Fran McLaughlin.
Through McLaughlin, his spokeswoman, Clarke predicted that the county would end up paying more than the $35,000 authorized Thursday.
“The County Board will have to pay to sue the Sheriff and pay to defend the Sheriff too,” McLaughlin wrote. (fox6)
County Executive Chris Abele plans to sign the legislation. For him, it is absolutely worth the $35,000, and he would not go this route if he did not think there were a case. The reason for seeking outside counsel, he explained, was the Audit Services Division has an inherent conflict of interest; it serves both the Board and the Sheriff’s Department.
The four deaths include a newborn baby, after a mother gave birth unassisted and unnoticed inside her jail cell. One man, a 38-year-old with mental health issues, died of “profound dehydration.” Another man, a 28-year-old, was believed to be faking a seizure; he was picked up and then let go, which resulted in him hitting his head.
According to the Huffington Post:
Clarke, who grew up in a white neighborhood and attended a mostly white private high school, has said African Americans sell drugs “because they’re uneducated, they’re lazy, and they’re morally bankrupt.” He calls Black Lives Matter “Black Lies Matter” and compared them to the KKK. He once claimed that “police brutality ended in the 1960s.” Clarke made an appearance in July at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, where RNC delegates gave him a standing ovation as he proclaimed “Blue Lives Matter” and celebrated the acquittal of a Baltimore officer charged in the death of Freddie Gray.
An editorial in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel proposed Clarke was biding time:
This isn’t just stonewalling; this is building a castle and surrounding it with an alligator-filled moat. Maybe Clarke thinks the peasants of Milwaukee County don’t need to know what’s happening at the jail. Maybe he’s hoping for a call from President-elect Donald Trump (for whom he campaigned so eagerly while people were dying in his jail) so that he can walk away from doing his job.
Now that he has not been one of the Chosen Ones, it looks like Sheriff Clarke will have to answer for his piss-poor management of his day job. And since he is unable to provide a legal reason why he should not, look for this story to blow up.