Sheriff Clarke: Zielinski’s smear campaign more ‘politics of personal destruction’


By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter

MADISON, Wis. – Graeme Zielinski has written a lot of things that have gotten him into a lot of trouble. His mouth and keypad cost him his job a year ago as spokesman for the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, after firing off tweets comparing Gov. Scott Walker to serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.

But could his latest strain of incendiary claims land the fire-breathing partisan in jail?

THE MOUTH AND THE FURY: Former Democratic Party spokesman Graeme Zielinski is at it again, this time accusing Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke of domestic abuse. Zielinski has failed to provide any evidence to support his accusations.

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke tells Wisconsin Reporter he still is exploring legal remedies against Zielinski, who has published without evidence dozens of tweets accusing Clarke of domestic abuse.

“I continue to look at several state statutes that may apply, and I’m looking into the civil route as well,” the sheriff said. “I’m not going to leap into this and overreact. I want to get some advice on what kind of chance we stand in getting criminal charges on these statutes.”

He said harassment might fit the bill. Wisconsin’s statute defines offenders in part as anyone who “(e)ngages in a course of conduct or repeatedly commits acts which harass or intimidate the person and which serve no legitimate purpose.”

Zielinski’s ever-growing legion of critics asserts the partisan’s only purpose for just about anything is to smear and debase his perceived enemies.

Wisconsin Reporter, which has been on the business end of Zielinski’s attacks, could not reach Zielinski for comment.

Clarke acknowledges First Amendment law gives the public broader freedom to attack government officials. But the sheriff, whose provocative comments on gun ownership and the Milwaukee DA’s most recent political John Doe investigations have made him a big liberal target, says there is a “bright line,” and Zielinski has crossed it.

As Right Wisconsin first reported last month, Zielinski has fired off dozens of tweets accusing the sheriff of abusing his wife.

@MCSOSheriff hits his wife on her face and arms, to the point she is bruised,” Zielinski declared in a Feb. 22 tweet, one of at least 10 such accusatory communications Zielinski tweeted on that day.

Clarke told Right Wisconsin what he reiterated to Wisconsin Reporter this week.

“Not only is it totally false, there is nothing even close to it, not even a misunderstanding or some other taken-out-of-context explanation,” he said adding that his wife is “repulsed by this type of smear.”

Just as troubling, Clarke says, is news that Zielinski was on the payroll of Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele’s campaign last summer. Zielinski pocketed $10,000 for “consulting work” for the Democrat. The accusatory tweets about Clarke began not long before.

Abele, who has had some very public battles with the sheriff, told Fox6 in Milwaukee that he hired Zielinski for his political acumen and his reputation as a thorough researcher.

“He’s a great writer. He wrote for the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, and he knows how to do research,” Abele said.

“I did research into policy and I did some work with campaigns, and vetting some candidates for office. Typical office work. But at no time did any of it involve the nut job that is running the Sheriff’s Office,” Zielinski told Fox6.

Zielinski’s attacks on Clarke are part of a much bigger, creepy pattern. His often vitriolic and frequent tweets (nearly 13,000 of them from his present account alone) reveal a man who sees himself simultaneously persecuted by yet more powerful than his enemies.

“These @wisgop fuckers want me to fail. Don’t you know I won’t let them?” Zielinski tweets on Feb. 22.

BLOODY POLITICS: Sheriff David Clarke says Graeme Zielinski has crossed a “bright line,” and the sheriff is looking into legal relief.

Clarke said for Milwaukee County Executive Abele to “get in bed with a guy with Zielinski’s lack of character and integrity is very telling.”

Abele has said he does not support Zielinski’s inflammatory style of communication.

The sheriff says it’s just more “gutter politics” by some members of the left.

“These people try to draw blood and when there is blood in the water they try to throw piranhas in the water and try to take the person out,” Clarke said. “How do you think my wife feels about this? Her family has to read this stuff. But to think that she would put up with (domestic abuse), for her that’s insulting as well.”

“This is what politics has become, politics of personal destruction that the left engages in.”

While still serving as Democratic Party spokesman, Zielinski sent Wisconsin Reporter a hostile email response about a story that questioned Zielinski’s claims. In it, he accused Wisconsin Reporter of “’when did you stop beating your wife?’ style of journalism.”

It’s now possible that he intended that not as criticism but as a compliment.

Contact M.D. Kittle at

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