David Clarke, former sheriff of Milwaukee County, seemed made for Trump-era celebrity politics. Black, bearded and Stetson-wearing, he made his name with fiery conservative rhetoric, earning himself hundreds of thousands of dollars from speaking tours which crossed the country. He spoke at the Republican National Convention in 2016, and is currently a spokesman for one of the main super PACs tied to Trump. Clarke and the now 45th President also shared the stage at a campaign rally in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Trump even plugged the Sheriff’s book, Cop Under Fire, on Twitter:
A great book by a great guy, highly recommended! https://t.co/3jbDDN8YmJ
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 27, 2017
Not everything, however, has gone according to plan for Clarke. When Trump entered the White House, Clarke was expected to be given a senior role in the Department of Homeland Security. But for reasons unclear that did not come to pass. It’s understood that during Trump’s visit to Milwaukee on June 13, 2017, the president met Clarke and the DHS position was discussed. According to a source who spoke with Clarke, Trump informed him that then-DHS secretary John Kelly didn’t want him in the position, and that he should withdraw. Then in September Clarke unexpectedly resigned his job as Sheriff.
Known for his outspoken views in defence of police, Clarke became the Make America Great Again movement’s tactical response to Black Lives Matter. He called Black Lives Matter a ‘terror organization’ in his memoir and predicted they would join forces with Isis. In late 2016, he was, according to the Daily Beast, part of a delegation sent by the National Rifle Association to Russia that met Dmitry Rogozin, Deputy Prime Minister of Russia on Defense and Space Industry. In January it was reported that the FBI was investigating the trip.
Even in his humbler days Clarke had a streak of zealotry; a federal appeals court ruled that Clarke violated separation of church and state when he forced his deputies to listen to a presentation from something called the Fellowship of the Christian Centurions. (One of the Centurion speakers quoted the Bible in a talk to deputies, saying that God ‘established government and that people in authority are ministers of God assigned to promote good and punish evil.’)
Clarke has suffered other problems on the home front. Two months before Clarke spoke at the RNC, an inmate died in one of his jails in Milwaukee after allegedly being deprived of water for a week. After the autopsy results were released, Clarke was further accused of calling the city medical examiner and threatening him, an accusation Clarke declined to comment on. The jail death has resulted in an ongoing criminal trial of three jail staff. Two have plead not guilty. Inmates said the man cried out for water before he died.
But Cockburn can reveal that there may be another reason for his political demise. It seems that he has for some time been conducting extra-marital affairs.
Clarke filed for divorce from his wife two weeks ago, on the day before this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference. Since last year, he has been seen regularly with Hedieh Mirahmadi, a Muslim woman who has a job conducting sensitivity training with law enforcement agencies. According to her LinkedIn page, Mirahmadi was a consultant to the FBI from 2015 until June 2017.
Mirahmadi characterises her relationship as standard for a business manager to someone of Clarke’s stature. But when asked to confirm or deny whether they were having an affair, Mirahmadi told Cockburn, ‘well, he’s filing for a divorce, so I don’t think it’s technically an affair. I don’t really want to comment on the nature of our relationship.’
‘Those are your words, not mine,’ she added, when Cockburn asked whether their relationship was strictly professional.
Clarke has been contacted for comment, but has yet to respond.
In an interview last November, reported in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Clarke described Mirahmadi as his ‘partner, business partner’. As well as her sensitivity training job, she runs DAC Enterprises, a company whose only apparent purpose is to manage Clarke’s persona.
The relationship between Mirahmadi and Clarke has sparked suspicion among his conservative allies, who aren’t always open-minded when it comes to Islam. The pair were seen together at the Conservative Political Action Conference throughout the time he was there, and Cockburn has confirmed there was no hotel room rented in his name at the conference centre — but one in hers. Wild theories are flying around conservative circles that Mirahmadi is an ‘operative’ for the Muslim Brotherhood. Mirahmadi told Cockburn that such talk was ‘offensive’. She said: ‘Are you kidding about the Muslim Brotherhood? I’ve spent 20 years of my life fighting them.’
On October 2, 2017 Clarke posted a photo of himself, Mirahmadi, and Steve Bannon at an off-the-record summit of the Council for National Policy.
Had the pleasure of meeting with Steve Bannon. What we discussed is private. That'll make the left run around like thier hair is on fire. pic.twitter.com/uVZAcNV7ba
— David A. Clarke, Jr. (@SheriffClarke) October 3, 2017
Later that month Clarke brought Mirahmadi to an America First PAC strategy meeting in Texas, where they both took pictures with Donald Trump, Jr. That meeting ended on October 25. The next day, the pair were together at the Livingston County Republicans Reagan Day dinner in Michigan.
— Tim Christoson (@timchristoson) October 27, 2017
— David A. Clarke, Jr. (@SheriffClarke) October 27, 2017
In late fall, 2017, a dossier was circulated among conservatives about Mirahmadi which attempted to discredit her, a version of which was later leaked on the internet and posted on Twitter on December 1. It contains obvious errors: for example, Mirahmadi is Sunni, not Shia. But the document has fed the more bizarre theories about her. It was around this time that Clarke stopped appearing on Fox. His once-ubiquitous cowboy hat has all but disappeared from Hannity.
Mirahmadi’s appearance has changed over the years. As late as August 2016, she wore a head covering. However, in her earliest photographed appearances with Clarke, she is not wearing one. In Colorado Springs, she wore a blazer; by CPAC, a dress with bare arms.
Why the change? And why would Sheriff Clarke, who once talked up the idea of regular police patrols through Muslim neighbourhoods, allow a woman whose business is selling the kind of soft rhetoric about Islamic extremism that drives conservatives crazy to run his personal brand?
What’s more, as late as 2016 Mirahmadi was retweeting Hillary Clinton, and worked for the FBI under Obama. Then, all of a sudden, she was being invited to some highly sensitive off-the-record events in the conservative world. In November, Mirahmadi also changed her Twitter background photo to one showing herself, Clarke, and two big-dollar GOP donors, Harold Hamm and Hal Lambert, as well as Jeff Miller, a finance chair of the Republican Governors Association.
On December 6, Clarke showed up at an awards ceremony hosted by Ginni Thomas at the Trump Hotel in DC, but did not win an award — a fact multiple reporters interpreted as a snub. Awardees that day were Frank Gaffney, James O’Keefe, Leonard Leo, Star Parker, Tom Fitton and several others. The keynote speaker, Sean Hannity, didn’t even mention Clarke’s name.
The Trump administration also appears to have distanced itself from the sheriff.
‘Kelly isn’t comfortable with me at DHS,’ Clarke allegedly told a source after the meeting with Trump in Milwaukee, referring to the White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. ‘Kelly knows he can’t control me. Nobody can.’
After being denied the Homeland Security job, Clarke’s consolation prize appears to be the role he now fills, as spokesman and senior adviser at America First Action, a pro-Trump super-PAC.
Mirahmadi is not the only alleged other woman in this story. Messages shared with Cockburn suggest that, from 2014 to 2017, Clarke saw and communicated intimately with another woman from New Jersey. Several photos exist on Twitter of them together, at the NRA convention and CPAC 2015. By late October, 2017, however, things had soured. In an October 27, 2017 email, seen by Cockburn, she appears to threaten to expose Clarke and their affair.
Cockburn has obtained a set of Twitter direct messages that appear to be between Clarke and this woman from around Christmas, 2014. Most are from late 2014, but one shows that they stayed in touch until May, 2017. In one of the messages, Clarke wistfully talks about settling down to be a dad and radio host with his paramour.
The messages have not been authenticated by either party, however Mirahmadi claimed to Cockburn that the same woman from New Jersey is ‘no Snow White’. ‘Yes they had an affair of some sort,’ she said. Mirahmadi sent Cockburn a series of even more sexually explicit emails, purporting to be from the woman to Clarke, in which the woman also threatened to expose him.
As the success of Donald Trump shows, big egos can be a huge asset in politics these days. A big mouth never did the Donald any harm, and he overcame many accusations of improper behaviour with women. But, as David Clarke’s waning star shows, conservative Trump fans will only put up with so much.
In topsy-turvy Trumpland, an inmate dying in one of your jails might not be enough to destroy your reputation. But just appearing to have an extramarital affair with a Muslim may be pushing it.