Florida elections chief resigns after blackface ‘Katrina victim’ photos emerge

Mike Ertel, photo courtesy Seminole County Supervisor of Elections Facebook page.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida’s top elections official has abruptly resigned after a newspaper obtained pictures of him in blackface posing as a Hurricane Katrina victim.

Secretary of State Michael Ertel resigned Thursday afternoon just hours after he testified about election lawsuits before a state legislative committee.

The Tallahassee Democrat obtained pictures taken at a Halloween party 14 years ago that show Ertel dressed in blackface. The photos were taken two months after the deadly storm ravaged the Gulf Coast region.

According to the newspaper, the pictures were of Ertel wearing blackface, red lipstick, earrings, a New Orleans Saints bandanna, and falsies under a purple T-shirt that had “Katrina Victim” written on it.

Ertel had been the Seminole County supervisor of elections and was picked by new Gov. Ron DeSantis to take over the department that oversees elections.

During his campaign for governor, DeSantis came under fire from Democrats who said he made racially divisive comments about Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.

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