Newly-appointed Florida Secretary of State Mike Ertel has resigned after embarrassing photos surfaced. In the photos, Ertel is in blackface and drag, wearing a New Orleans Saints bandanna and a purple t-shirt proclaiming “Katrina Victim”. The photos were taken just two months after the hurricane and levee breaks that devastated the city of New Orleans, while Ertel was serving as Seminole County Election Commissioner.
The photos were posted by the Tallahassee Democrat on Thursday. After confirming that it was him who appeared in the photos, Ertel refused to comment, saying, “There’s nothing I can say.”
He later resigned his post.
“I am submitting my resignation as Florida secretary of state effective immediately,” he wrote. “It has been an honor to serve you and the voters of Florida.”
Ertel was appointed to the position last December, to replace Ken Detzner, who had served as former Gov. Rick Scott’s Secretary of State since 2012.
At a news conference, Governor DeSantis had this to say:
“It’s unfortunate. He’s done a lot of good work.” He also stated that he only accepted the resignation because “I don’t want to get mired in side controversies.”
This isn’t the first controversy involving the issue of race that DeSantis has faced. During his campaign, he was accused of being racist after telling voters not to “monkey this up,” during the election. DeSantis’ opponent, Andrew Gillum was a black man. He also spoke at white nationalist events and took money from a man who had used a racial slur to refer to former President Barack Obama. He was also reportedly supported by a white nationalist group during his campaign.