Former Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke has not been indicted in the federal fraud case that accuses Steve Bannon and Brian Kolfage of defrauding donors to their “We Build the Wall” nonprofit, but Clarke’s prominent role in fundraising raises questions about his ethics, at the very least.
Former Sheriff David Clarke Was Key Fundraiser For Bannon’s ‘We Build The Wall’
David Clarke, speaking at the 2016 Republican National ConventionCredit: C-Span
August 27, 2020

As you probably know, last week, Bannon and Kolfage were arrested and charged with lining their own pockets with money donated to their nonprofit for the purpose of building the border wall (that Trump promised Mexico would pay for).

Urban Milwaukee's Bruce Murphy explains how Clarke’s cowboy hat and law-and-order image made him invaluable for getting those donors to pony up.

For instance, in July 2019 Clarke appeared at a “Summer-Long Wall-a-Thon” to raise money for We Build the Wall. As inspiring music played, Clarke offered a rhapsodic call for donations to “privately build the wall” to “secure our border against illegal immigration, crime, drugs and human smuggling,” something a tough sheriff like him knew all about, having encountered such problems in Milwaukee, he explained.

“Never underestimate the determination of the American people when they want to get something done,” he declared. “You can always count on the American people to step up in a moment of crisis.… to dig deep in their pockets, give whatever they can… If American people don’t step up, we can’t get this thing done."

Murphy noted that Clarke also promoted We Build the Wall in Cincinnati, Detroit and Sunland Park, New Mexico. Clarke posted on Facebook, too, where he wrote about how shocked he was at the immigrant “burden” along the Mexican border

When you’re looking for a visual to evoke border security, it’s hard to top a cowboy hatted lawman. … Clarke was a certified law enforcement professional, almost out of central casting for selling donors on border security.

Clarke may well have had nothing to do with the finances or any fraud. But he certainly had reasons to be suspicious. Murphy points out that Clarke was still fronting the group one month after the Florida Agriculture Commissioner announced he was launching an investigation into it.

There's also the question of how much Clarke was paid by the nonprofit for his services. According to Murphy, he “has a reputation as someone whose services don’t come cheap.”

I suspect the donors will be asking that question, too, before long.

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