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Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. spoke to the County Board's Finance Committee on Oct. 14, 2014. (Mark Hoffman photo) Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. spoke to the County Board's Finance Committee on Oct. 14, 2014. (Mark Hoffman photo)

Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. spoke to the County Board's Finance Committee on Oct. 14, 2014. (Mark Hoffman photo)

Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher May 17, 2017

Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr., a firebrand conservative who ran as a Democrat in left-leaning Milwaukee County, announced May 17, 2017 that he is joining the administration of President Donald Trump.

Here are highlights from the PolitiFact Wisconsin file for Clarke, a frequent Fox News commentator on national issues who said is leaving his post to be an assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. He will work in the department's Office of Partnership and Engagement as a liaison with state, local and tribal law enforcement and governments.

Pro-Sheriff David Clarke group says Clarke called Black Lives Matter hate group, terrorist movement

A group that tried to draft Clarke to run in 2018 against U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., said in April 2017 that Clarke has said Black Lives Matter "is a terrorist movement, a hate group and calls it, Black LIES Matter."

Our rating: True.

Clarke has repeatedly used "lies" instead of "lives" in labeling the group, and has repeatedly called it a hate group. In his memoir, he calls the group a "terrorist organization."

David Clarke says Michelle Obama said she was proud of U.S. only after Barack Obama became president

We last fact checked Clarke himself in a tweet he sent in February 2017. He said Michelle Obama had "said she was never proud of her country til they elected her husband POTUS."

Our rating: False.

Clarke did not provide us with evidence of any such statement, and we could not find any ourselves. What Michelle Obama said -- nine months before Barack Obama was elected president -- was that for the first time in her adult life, she was proud of her country not just because her husband had done well in pursuing the presidential nomination, but also "because I think people are hungry for change."

Clarke says 'it's a lie' that black males are twice as likely as white to be shot by cops

A Clarke attack on Barack Obama in July 2016 fared a little better on our Truth-O-Meter. According to Clarke, Obama "said black males are two times more likely to be shot by a law enforcement officer than white males" and "that is a lie" because "there is no data."

Our rating: Mostly False.

Clarke was slightly off on the first part of his claim, in that the president spoke about all African-Americans and whites, not just males. On the second part, Clarke was correct that there was no national data on all police shootings -- fatal and non-fatal -- to back that statistic. But he went too far in saying it is a lie, given that we don’t know if the statistic was accurate.

Which black people did David Clarke call uneducated, lazy and morally bankrupt?

This was a 2015 In Context article fleshing out comments made by Clarke, an African-American, about African-Americans and drugs. Here’s an excerpt:

I was talking about the scourge of the black community. And I was talking about drugs being the scourge of the black community. And I said, here’s why people sell drugs in the black community -- because they’re lazy, they’re uneducated and they’re morally bankrupt. How can anybody argue about that? Who would stand up and protect a drug dealer? Who would stand up and protect the reputation?

Group says Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke said calling 911 not best option

During Clarke’s 2014 re-election campaign, the liberal Greater Wisconsin Committee said Clarke had advised citizens to "point that barrel center mass and pull the trigger" because "911 is not our best option."

Our rating: True.

Clarke did just that in an interview, and made similar comments in an earlier radio spot and in comments to PolitiFact Wisconsin.

Clarke cites violent crime uptick since 2010

In 2014, Clarke said Milwaukee has seen "an uptick in violence" since 2010, and "the only period of calm we get is when winter sets in."

Our rating: Mostly True.

Violent crime rates had roller-coastered in recent years, but Clarke’s observations about the trend since 2010 was on target. His observation about a winter "calm" period was a bit of a stretch, but it’s certainly calmer than the hot days of summer.

All told, we fact checked Clarke 12 times. He had the one Mostly True and two Half True ratings. The other nine were Mostly False or False.


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PolitiFact Wisconsin items as noted

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More by Tom Kertscher

Sheriff David Clarke's Truth-O-Meter file