Florida secretary of state resigns after Halloween photos emerge of him wearing blackface as a 'Katrina victim'

Florida secretary of state resigns after Halloween photos emerge of him wearing blackface as a 'Katrina victim'
Image via screengrab

Michael Ertel’s career as Florida’s secretary of state under Gov. Ron DeSantis has come to an end. The far-right Republican has resigned after photos of him wearing blackface at a Halloween party in 2005 emerged.


The photos, which were obtained by the Tallahassee Democrat and passed along to DeSantis’ office on January 23, were taken at a time when Ertel was serving as supervisor of elections for Seminole County, Florida. Only two months earlier, Hurricane Katrina had devastated New Orleans—and in the photos, Ertel can be seen mocking Katrina’s victims (many of whom were African-American) by wearing a t-shirt that said “Katrina victim.”

The 49-year-old Ertel was appointed Florida secretary of state after DeSantis won Florida’s divisive 2018 gubernatorial race. DeSantis, an ardent support of President Donald Trump, narrowly defeated Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum—and during the campaign, racist robocalls disparaging Gillum (an African-American Democrat) were made to Florida voters.

DeSantis’ campaign distanced itself from those anti-Gillum calls, which weren’t made by his campaign but by a white supremacist group. And the same white supremacist group made equally racist robocalls attacking Democrat Stacey Abrams (who is also African-American) in Georgia’s 2018 gubernatorial race.

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