Debate between Sheriff and supervisors over ad heads to Co. Board

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- A new rule, intended to prevent Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke and other County officials from creating controversial ads was approved on Thursday, June 13th by a County committee. This, as Sheriff Clarke has called the rule a gag order.

By a 4-3 vote, the rule that would ban Sheriff Clarke and other elected officials from appearing in taxpayer funded media ads passed committee, and now goes before the full County Board.

Sheriff Clarke has issued radio ads urging citizens to take their safety into their own hands.

"I'm Sheriff David Clarke, and I want to talk to you about something personal...your safety. Simply calling 911 and waiting is no longer your best option. Use the element of surprise against your attacker, and most importantly, be ruthless in your response," Sheriff Clarke says in the ads.

Sheriff Clarke has spent more than $18,000 this year of taxpayer dollars on public safety messages. Ads some County supervisors have taken issue with.

"You know, sometimes you don't have rules until people abuse the rules. Then you have to make a rule. That's what this is," Milwaukee County Supervisor Patricia Jursik said.

Jursik introduced the rule that will ban any elected official from appearing in any County taxpayer paid ad in person or using their voice.

Sheriff Clarke did not appear at Thursday's committee meeting, but sent his inspector in his place. The Sheriff's Office calls the proposal a gag order and says elected officials have always appeared in ads in Milwaukee County -- and brought ads to prove it.

Supervisors say Sheriff Clarke's recent ads are different. They say Sheriff Clarke is using the ads to promote a political agenda.

The new rules would require elected officials to use their own money if they want to appear in ads.

One supervisor calls the plan hypocritical -- saying County Board supervisors use County money for newsletters and press releases (which will still be allowed).