Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker further paved the way for his GOP presidential bid today, signing two bills weakening his state’s gun laws, just one week after a gun massacre left nine people dead at a church in South Carolina. Walker said that he went ahead with the planned signing despite the recent attack because if he had postponed it, “it would have given people the erroneous opinion that what we signed into law today had anything to do with what happened in Charleston.”
Walker gave another signal to the far-right base that he is apparently hoping to attract in his choice of location for the bill-signing: the office of Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke.
We last wrote about Clarke when he addressed the National Rifle Association’s convention and called for a semi-automatic rifle to be added to the Great Seal of the United States:
Clarke first emerged as a Tea Party hero in 2013, when he recorded a radio ad urging his constituents to arm themselves because “calling 911 and waiting is no longer your best option.” This earned him the “Constitutional Sheriff of the Year” award from the Constitutional Sheriffs and Peace Officer’s Association, a far-right group that holds that county sheriffs have the power to defy federal laws that they believe are unconstitutional and arrest federal agents enforcing them. Accepting the award, Clarke called the group a “friend for life.”
Last year, Clarke joined conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ radio program to warn that a renewal of the federal assault weapons ban would lead to weapons confiscation and would spark “the second coming of the American Revolution, the likes of which would make the first revolution pale by comparison”:
This year, Clarke has burnished his Tea Party credentials by appearing repeatedly on Fox News to assure its viewers that racial disparities in the justice system are a myth and to attack President Obama for saying otherwise.
While the choice of Clarke’s office for the bill-signing may have seemed mundane to many observers, Walker was sending a clear signal to some of the most extreme elements of his party’s base.