President Trump’s administration has added another controversial figure, hiring Sheriff David Clarke for the Department of Homeland Security.
The current Milwaukee County sheriff told radio host Vicki McKenna on Wednesday that he is leaving Wisconsin to become an assistant secretary in the agency’s the Office of Partnerships and Programs, working as a liaison to state and local police.
Clarke became a vocal Trump supporter during last year’s campaign, most notably giving a Republican National Convention speech where he called Black Lives Matter protests “anarchy.”
In 2015 he also said that the group, which he called Black Lies Matter, “will join forces with ISIS to being (sic) down our legal constituted republic. You heard it here first.”
The sheriff had been floated as a possible Trump cabinet pick during the transition, and also a a potential replacement for FBI Director James Comey.
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.
A jury recommended charges for workers at the facility earlier this month for the death of Terrill Thomas, who died last year after he was allegedly deprived water for seven days.
Three other people died at the jail in the following months, though Clarke has dismissed criticism including calls for his resignation as “fake news.”
Clarke’s departure has nothing to do with calls for his resignation in Wisconsin, according to Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Craig Peterson, who added that he is “just anxious to serve his president.”
However, there are concerns about Clarke being up to the job on the national stage.
One Wisconsin Republican who knew Clarke told the Daily News he’d be a “disaster,” and said he hoped the new hire would be be “far removed from any substantial decision making.”
“Sheriff David Clarke’s unconscionable record makes him unfit to serve. This appointment is a disgrace,” Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) posted on Twitter.
Former DHS official Juliette Kayyem said that she held Clarke’s position in the Obama administration said on Twitter, “I am floored. And feel for my career staff.”
The sheriff himself told McKenna on Wednesday that he knows there will be a “steep learning curve,” but that he hopes to improve communication between law enforcement on the federal and local levels.
A Department of Homeland Security spokesman did not confirm the hiring, but said that the position in question would be a “Secretarial appointment” from Secretary John Kelly, meaning that it does not require Senate confirmation.