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Florida Secretary of State Resigns amid Blackface Controversy

Former Florida Secretary of State Michael Ertel (State of Florida/Wikimedia)

Florida secretary of state Michael Ertel submitted his resignation Thursday after photos surfaced of him dressed in blackface as a victim of Hurricane Katrina at a Halloween party in 2005.

The Tallahassee Democrat obtained the pictures, which show Ertel wearing false breasts, lipstick, a purple shirt with the words “Katrina Victim” written on it, dark paint on his face, and a New Orleans Saints bandana just two months after Katrina devastated New Orleans.

“There’s nothing I can say,” Ertel told the Democrat when asked about the photos, before confirming he was the man they depicted.

“I am submitting my resignation as Florida secretary of state effective immediately,” Ertel wrote to Governor Ron DeSantis. “It has been an honor to serve you and the voters of Florida.”

“The governor accepted Secretary Ertel’s resignation,” DeSantis’s office said in a statement.

“It’s unfortunate. He’s done a lot of good work,” DeSantis said. “I don’t want to get mired in side controversies.”

DeSantis appointed Ertel, who was Seminole County’s elections supervisor at the time the photos were taken, as secretary of state on December 28.

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