Congresswoman Norma Torres

Representing the 35th District of California
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55 Members of Congress Warn Against Appointment of Controversial Sheriff to DHS

May 24, 2017
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – 55 Members of Congress, led by Reps. Norma J. Torres (D-CA) and Gwen Moore (D-WI) sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly urging him to reject the appointment of Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke as assistant secretary in the Office of Partnership and Engagement at the Department of Homeland Security.


“There could be nobody less suited for this position than Sheriff David Clarke,” said Rep. Norma J. Torres.  “The assistant secretary position in the Office of Partnership and Engagement is responsible for building relationships and working closely with diverse communities to prepare for and respond to national emergencies. His history of inflammatory statements and outright disdain for the communities he represents make him completely unqualified for this vital position.”


Clarke has claimed to be appointed to this assistant secretary position, which does not require Senate confirmation, though no official announcement has been made.  He rose to national prominence as a speaker at the 2016 Republican National Convention and has been a vocal supporter of President Trump.  Clarke has a history of controversial statements against the Black Lives Matter movement, Democrats, Planned Parenthood, and gun control.  He was also successfully sued by a police union in 2007 for religious proselytizing, and has faced a series of lawsuits in response to allegations of mistreatment of pregnant inmates as well as multiple deaths in the Milwaukee County jail. 


“It is clear Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke lacks the temperament and sound judgment required to effectively liaise with local law enforcement on matters of national security,” said Rep. Gwen Moore. “The notion that Clarke — an elected official who continually abuses the power of his office and whose gross negligence contributed to numerous deaths in the jail he manages — is being considered for a position at the Department of Homeland Security should elicit profound concern from every American. We must not allow President Trump to reward Clarke’s ineptitude and inflammatory antics with a job in the federal government. A position of such importance demands a sensible and competent candidate, not a professional partisan agitator who prioritizes politics over his constituents’ safety.”


The full text of the letter and list of cosigners can be found below.  A pdf can be found HERE.




May 23, 2017


The Honorable John Kelly

Secretary of Homeland Security

Department of Homeland Security

245 Murray Lane SW

Washington, DC 20528-0075


Dear Secretary Kelly,


We urge you to reject the potential appointment of Sheriff Clarke as assistant secretary in the Office of Partnership and Engagement at the Department of Homeland Security. Unlike the two previous holders of this position, Sheriff Clarke lacks the Homeland Security experience necessary to carry out the outreach and public engagement role of this position.


Most alarming perhaps is that this position is integral to public safety and working with all communities to prepare for and to respond to serious homeland security emergencies.  The Office of Partnership and Engagement is tasked with working with state and local governments, and doing private sector outreach with business and tourism offices to ensure the federal government is most effective in preventing harm to Americans.


While the assistant secretary in the Office of Partnership and Engagement must work with public officials of all political stripes from around the country, Sheriff Clarke has repeatedly shown a lack of openness to working with differing viewpoints.  According to Sheriff Clarke: When I hear people say that we need to reach across the aisle and work with people, with the Democrats, you know what I say? The only reason Ill be reaching across the aisle is to grab one of them by the throat.”


As Members of Congress representing diverse districts across the country, we are alarmed and concerned that coordination with agencies such as FEMA – which our constituents count on in greatest times of need – could be led by a figure who has shown himself to be unwilling or unable to effectively work with others. This is not a political role and should not be filled by someone who has such strong views against specific communities in the United States.


We appreciate your attention to this request and your leadership in ensuring that DHS fulfills the agency’s most basic role providing assistance to our communities during major emergencies.




Rep. Norma J. Torres

Rep. Gwen Moore

Rep. G.K. Butterfield

Rep. Val Bulter Demings

Rep. Alcee L. Hastings

Rep. Betty McCollum

Rep. Rick Larsen

Rep. Tony Cárdenas

Rep. Juan Vargas

Rep. Pramila Jayapal

Rep. Danny K. Davis

Rep. Albio Sires

Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay

Rep. Bobby L. Rush

Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman

Rep. Grace F. Napolitano

Rep. Yvette D. Clarke

Rep. James P. McGovern

Rep. Mark Pocan

Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva

Rep. Nanette Díaz Barragán

Rep. Rep. Karen Bass

Rep. David N. Cicilline

Rep. David Scott

Rep. Joseph Crowley

Rep. Anthony G. Brown

Rep. Gene Green

Rep. John Garamendi

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson

Rep. Dina Titus

Rep. Gerald E. Connolly

Rep. Jerrold Nadler    

Rep. John Conyers, Jr.

Rep. Donald M. Payne, Jr.

Rep. Al Lawson, Jr.

Rep. Adriano Espaillat

Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr.

Rep. Mark Takano     

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici

Rep. Katherine M. Clark

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee

Rep. Jamie Raskin      

Rep. Lois Frankel

Rep. Barbara Lee

Rep. Henry C. “Hank” Johnson, Jr.

Rep. Ruben Gallego

Rep. Marc A. Veasey

Rep. Hakeem  S. Jeffries

Rep. Steve Cohen

Rep. James E. Clyburn

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa

Rep. Dwight Evans    

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver

Rep. Donald Norcross