Mike Ertel resigns as Florida secretary of state after blackface photos surface

OrlandoSentinel.com | 2/6/2019 | Staff
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Florida Secretary of State Michael Ertel resigned Thursday after photos emerged of him wearing blackface as a Hurricane “Katrina victim” at a Halloween party in 2005.

The stunning development ended the former Seminole County election supervisor’s 16-day stint as Florida’s top elections officer.

Tallahassee - Democrat - Photos - Gov - Ron

The Tallahassee Democrat obtained the photos and showed them to Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office on Thursday morning. The governor’s office announced Ertel’s resignation just hours later.

“It has been an honor to serve you and the voters of Florida,” Ertel’s resignation letter stated.

Tallahassee - Democrat - Photos - Months - Hurricane

The Tallahassee Democrat reported that the photos were taken two months after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in August 2005, leading to an estimated 1,836 deaths.

Ertel, 49, a Republican, had been appointed Seminole Supervisor of Elections just a few months earlier by then-Gov. Jeb Bush. He had previously served as spokesman for Seminole County and the county Sheriff’s Office.

Ertel - Tallahassee - Democrat - Man - Blackface

Ertel told the Tallahassee Democrat that he was the man “in blackface and red lipstick, wearing earrings and a New Orleans Saints bandanna, and falsies [large fake breasts] under a purple T-shirt that had ‘Katrina Victim’ written on it.”

Ertel would not talk with the paper about the circumstances surrounding the photo.

Nothing - Ertel - Sentinel - Request - Comment

“There's nothing I can say,” Ertel said. He did not respond to the Sentinel’s request for comment.

In an appearance at a Panhandle news conference, DeSantis said he thought the controversy was “unfortunate” and that Ertel regretted the incident. He added that Ertel had done good work in his two weeks on the job, but that he didn’t want the distraction in his administration.

People - Things - DeSantis - Administration - Matters

“I want people to be able to lead and not have these things swirling around him,” DeSantis said. “I've got to have an administration that's going to be focused on what matters to Floridians, and I don't want to get mired into kind of...
(Excerpt) Read more at: OrlandoSentinel.com
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