David Clarke, the controversial conservative sheriff of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, resigned Thursday — and days later it was announced he is joining a pro-Trump political action committee.
America First Action, in a statement, described itself as "the primary super PAC dedicated to electing federal candidates who support the agenda of the Trump-Pence administration."
“David Clarke is an American patriot, and we are very proud to welcome him to America First,” said Brian Walsh, the group's president. “Having spent a lifetime in law enforcement—protecting and serving his community and fighting for justice and the Second Amendment—Sheriff Clarke doesn’t just believe in making America safe again; he’s devoted his life to it.”
Clarke said the job "gives me the chance to do what I love most."
America First Action is staffed by several close allies and veterans of Trump's 2016 campaign. Corey Lewandowski recently joined the group in a similar role.
Milwaukee County Clerk George L. Christenson told BuzzFeed News the sheriff submitted a letter of resignation at 3:16 p.m. local time on Thursday.
"After almost forty years serving the great people of Milwaukee County, I have chosen to retire to pursue other opportunities," Clarke said in a statement released by the sheriff's department. "I will have news about my next steps in the very near future."
Clarke was an early and staunch supporter of President Trump during the campaign, and was at one point was thought to be considered for a cabinet position in the new administration.
In May, during a radio interview, he said he had been offered a job as an assistant secretary in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The following month, however, he announced he would not be taking a job with the administration after all.
DHS officials, however, never said publicly that Clarke had been offered a position.
Craig Peterson, a spokesman for Clarke, told BuzzFeed News the sheriff would be making an announcement about his future plans after the Labor Day weekend, but would not say what prompted Clarke to resign on such short notice.
Peterson said the resignation, however, was not prompted by issues within the department, which has faced increased scrutiny after a series of deaths inside the jail.
"I don't think it has anything to do with the department at all," Peterson said. "He enjoyed tremendous support and was one of he most popular politicians in the state."
Clarke has been a firebrand conservative and a frequent guest on conservative radio and Fox News shows.
He's been a continuous advocate for police officers, especially during public outcry over excessive force and deadly officer-involved shootings.
But Clarke has been fighting a series of scandals in his position as sheriff in Milwaukee County as well, including the death of a mentally ill man who was allegedly deprived of water in his cell.
A federal lawsuit was also filed against his department after a woman died in her cell while giving birth.
Clarke made no mention of those issues in his short, one-sentence resignation letter, which stated simply:
"This communication is submitted as the notice of my resignation as Sheriff of Milwaukee County commencing August 31, 2017, at 11:59 p.m."
Peterson also confirmed Clarke was in Nashville at the time his resignation letter was submitted to the county.
Clarke served as Milwaukee County Sheriff since 2002. Although an outspoken conservative, a key speaker at the Republican National Convention, and constant critic of liberals, Clarke has repeatedly ran as a democrat in Wisconsin.
He was expected to face an uphill battle in his next election. According to a recent Public Policy Polling survey, only 31% of voters in the county approved of the job he was doing, and 65% believed he was hurting the county's image.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates and follow BuzzFeed News on Twitter.
Salvador Hernandez is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
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