Sheriff Clarke Sues County Exec Abele Over First Amendment?

Well here’s a good one…Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke is accusing Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele of infringing on the good sheriff’s 1st Amendment rights of free speech by trying to cut millions of dollars out of the sheriff departments budget last year. Really…I mean…really?

Well I guess if you take Citizens United to an absurd conclusion that all money is free speech…then maybe the sheriff has a point…except it isn’t his money…and from what I can see he is blathering all over the airwaves and in print as much as ever…so I don’t know what’s being infringed. But on with the story:

Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. scored a huge victory late last year when county supervisors overrode plans by Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele to cut the sheriff’s budget by $4 million.

But Clarke was not done with his longtime political foe. The sheriff has now sued Abele over that budget fight.

Clarke’s claim: His First Amendment rights were violated by the county exec.

“We’re asking a judge to enjoin the county executive from using the budget process to retaliate against any county official for speaking out on matters of public concern,” said Michael. A. I. Whitcomb, the private attorney representing Clarke.

In other words, the sheriff is asking a judge to issue an order telling Abele to follow the U.S. Constitution.

Well at this point this is as absurd as it seems but here is a little more of the rationale behind it:

In his November veto message, Abele said he could not support raising property taxes by 1.4% “to validate the sheriff for his repeated incendiary comments and his out of touch views on criminal justice and our society.”

So yeah this is a little bit personal but I think the sheriff dost protest too much…considering stuff like this:

In the past, Clarke has accused the county exec of having “penis envy” and being an “expert on immaturity.”

If you follow through on this link there is plenty more such talk from both sides.

But here is a bit of the logic from Sheriff Clarke’s suit:

“Executive Abele violated Sheriff Clarke’s First Amendment rights by vetoing the County Board’s amendment that added $4 million for the Office of the Sheriff in the 2016 budget in retaliation for Sheriff Clarke’s speech criticized by Executive Abele in his veto,” Clarke’s suit said.

Yeah well except it seems to me that would need an actual infringement of some sort but Sheriff Clarke is still all over the airwaves on Milwaukee radio and I even saw him on Fox News spouting off about something while I was in Thailand recently. So his ability to speak his mind has not been inhibited in anyway.

But maybe this is the kicker from Sheriff Clarke:

He also said the remarks were made in his capacity as a citizen and not as a part of his official duties

What? Then why do most of his written pronouncements come out on official stationary of the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department or in public service announcements produced by his department and why is he in full uniform and regalia whenever he appears at a press conference or on Fox News? When he is acting as a private citizen he should look and dress like one!

I expect the courts will toss this for the frivolous lawsuit that it is and not waste another dime of the sheriff’s department budget…i.e taxpayer dollars!


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