Fourteen years ago, when he was serving as Seminole County’s supervisor of elections, Michael Ertel dressed up as a female Hurricane Katrina victim for Halloween, with fake boobs, a headscarf and blackface.
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Ertel, who was recently appointed Secretary of State by the new Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, resigned today after the Halloween photos surfaced online, Tallahassee Democrat reported.
The governor’s office saw the photos Thursday morning that had been obtained by the Tallahassee Democrat and issued a statement hours later.
“The governor accepted Secretary Ertel’s resignation,” the statement read. DeSantis later talked about the resignation at a press conference on hurricane relief, saying, “It’s unfortunate. He’s done a lot of good work.” He added that he accepted the resignation because “I don’t want to get mired in side controversies.”
DeSantis is no stranger to racist controversies and has created one himself. During his heated campaign against Andrew Gillum, DeSantis made his infamous “don’t monkey this up” comment that instantly put him at odds with about half of Florida voters.
The Tallahassee Democrat reported that it texted the photos to Ertel last week, who identified himself as the white man in blackface.
“I am submitting my resignation as Florida secretary of state effective immediately,” Ertel wrote in a resignation letter to DeSantis. “It has been an honor to serve you and the voters of Florida.”
Ertel was named Florida Secretary of State on Dec. 28, replacing Ken Detzner, who had the job since 2012 under former Gov. Rick Scott.
“When it comes to you personal #brand, bad conduct can and will be mined in perpetuity especially if you get paid by taxpayers,” one Twitter user posted. Here are more responses on Twitter: