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Florida secretary of state resigns over old photo showing him wearing blackface on Halloween


He was dressed as a Hurricane Katrina victim

Tallahassee Democrat video screenshot

Florida Secretary of State Michael Ertel resigned after less than one month on the job Thursday after the Tallahassee Democrat obtained photos of him wearing blackface at a Halloween Party, the Democrat reported.

Ertel, who was appointed to the position on Dec. 28 by newly elected Gov. Ron DeSantis, was seen in photos wearing blackface as a part of a Hurricane Katrina victim costume in 2005.

Nearly 2,000 people died as a result of the August 2005 hurricane, and hundreds of thousands of people were displaced. Louisiana was hit the hardest, but 14 Floridians also lost their lives in the storm.

What did he have to say for himself?

When asked about the photos by the Democrat, Ertel simply replied "There's nothing I can say."

"I am submitting my resignation as Florida secretary of state effective immediately," Ertel wrote in his resignation letter. "It has been an honor to serve you and the voters of Florida."

Did Gov. DeSantis comment?

DeSantis didn't have much to say about the situation either, saying at a news conference that "It's unfortunate. He's done a lot of good work." DeSantis said he accepted the resignation because he doesn't "want to get mired in side controversies."

In the photos that cost him his job, Ertel was wearing blackface, red lipstick, earrings, a New Orleans Saints bandanna, and fake breasts under a purple shirt with "Katrina Victim" printed on the front.

Ertel's background

Ertel was the Seminole County elections supervisor at the time the photos were taken. He was appointed to that position by then-Gov. Jeb Bush.

When DeSantis appointed Ertel to serve as secretary of state, the governor said Ertel "has proven that he is vastly qualified to lead the state's election efforts as Secretary of State, and will strive to ensure that Florida voters are confident that elections continue to be fair and accurate."

The big task that Ertel was responsible for is the implementation of Amendment 4, which restores voting rights to more than one million ex-felons.

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