“I have chosen to retire to pursue other opportunities,” he said in a terse statement to the county clerk’s office.
Sheriff Clarke, an early supporter of President Trump who became a national political figure because of his willingness to buck the canons of political and racial correctness, had said earlier this summer that he had been offered a job in the Trump administration’s Homeland Security Department.
But the unspecified job never materialized and Sheriff Clarke withdrew his interest later. He has remained popular on the conservative-speakers circuit and frequently appears on Fox News Channel, blasting illegal immigrants and Black Lives Matter, among others.
“I will have news about my next steps in the very near future,” was all Sheriff Clarke said in his Thursday afternoon statement.
Liberals loathed Sheriff Clarke and quickly celebrated his sudden departure from the post he had held since 2002.
“After years of abuse at his hands, the people of Milwaukee can sleep soundly tonight,” state Sen. Lena Taylor, a Milwaukee Democrat frequently at odds with Sheriff Clarke, told reporters in a statement.
Several news outlets Thursday afternoon quickly reiterated reports that Sheriff Clarke oversaw a jail riddled with abuses by staff, including four fatalities. However, an investigation by Watchdog.org showed that the inmate-death rate in Milwaukee’s jails is normal for Wisconsin’s urban-county jails, and Wisconsin prosecutors have said Sheriff Clarke is not personally under investigation in any of the deaths.
His term of office would have ended after the 2018 elections. Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican, will appoint a sheriff to serve out Sheriff Clarke’s term.
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