Controversial Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke said Tuesday he has accepted a position within the Trump administration to serve as an assistant secretary in the Department of Homeland Security.
One problem: The department won’t say the job was offered.
Speaking on WISN radio, Clarke said he was “honored and humbled” to receive the appointment to the “office of partnership and programs,” where he will work with the private sector and state and local government officials, “and one that’s really near and dear to me, liaison with state, local and tribal law enforcement,” he said.
Clarke became a familiar face in the months leading up to the election as a surrogate for the Trump campaign. He raised eyebrows for his comments, including calling members of the Black Lives Matter movement “purveyors of hate” in a July appearance on CNN.
Since the inauguration, Clarke has drawn protests in Milwaukee for taking steps to allow corrections officers to conduct immigration enforcement in his jails.
The Trump administration, however, won’t confirm Clarke’s appointment.
Asked about Clarke’s announcement, an administration official told the CNN “The position in question is a secretarial position and is therefore a question for DHS.”
A DHS spokeswoman Wednesday declined to confirm Clarke’s new job. The agency’s website lists an Office of Partnership and Engagement that coordinates “outreach efforts with critical stakeholders nationwide.”
In an emailed statement, DHS spokeswoman Jenny Burke said, “The position mentioned is a Secretarial appointment. Such senior positions are announced by the Department when made official by the Secretary. No such announcement with regard to the Office of Public Engagement has been made.”
CNN has reached out to Clarke for additional comment.
In the radio interview Wednesday, Clarke said he had spoken several times with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly.
“One of the things that Secretary Kelly indicated to me was that oftentimes at the local level (law enforcement) feel it’s one way, it’s the government telling them you will do this you will do it this way,” Clarke said.
“That turns people off at the local level. I know I’ve heard these complaints for the entire nearly 40 years that I’ve been at the local level where we feel neglected and we don’t feel that we have any input. That’s important here,” Clarke said.
Backlash against Clarke’s announcement came quickly.
In a tweet, California Sen. Kamala Harris said, “Sheriff David Clarke’s unconscionable record makes him unfit to serve. This appointment is a disgrace.”
CNN’s Mary Kay Mallonee and Jim Acosta contributed to this report.