After Blackface Photos Surface, Florida Secretary of State Resigns

Former Seminole County elections chief Michael Ertel resigned as Florida secretary of state Thursday after photos emerged of him wearing blackface as a Hurricane "Katrina victim" at a Halloween party in 2005.
by | January 24, 2019 AT 4:47 PM

By Steven Lemongello

Former Seminole County elections chief Michael Ertel resigned as Florida secretary of state Thursday after photos emerged of him wearing blackface as a Hurricane "Katrina victim" at a Halloween party in 2005.

The Tallahassee Democrat obtained the photos and showed them to Gov. Ron DeSantis's office 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.

The Democrat newspaper reported that the photos were taken a few weeks after Katrina hit New Orleans and the Gulf Coast in August 2005. Ertel told the paper he was the man "in blackface and red lipstick, wearing earrings and a New Orleans Saints bandanna, and falsies under a purple T-shirt that had 'Katrina Victim' written on it."

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

"There's nothing I can say," Ertel said.

Ertel, who had been supervisor of elections in Seminole County since 2005, had been secretary of state for just 16 days.

DeSantis named Chris Anderson, chief investigations officer for the Seminole County Tax Collector's Office, as the county's new supervisor of elections on Jan. 18.

(c)2019 The Orlando Sentinel (Orlando, Fla.)