Florida Republican Michael Ertel resigns over blackface drag costume

Secretary of State of Florida Michael Ertel has resigned

Florida Secretary of State Michael Ertel has resigned after photos of him emerged in blackface drag.

Michael Ertel was appointed as Secretary of State on January 8 by the state’s new Republican Governor Ron DeSantis.

However, the official has resigned after just 16 days in office, after the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper obtained photos of him at a Halloween party in 2005 dressed as an African-American woman.

In the photos published by the newspaper, Ertel is wearing a T-shirt with “Katrina victim” written on it, just months after the 2005 hurricane which devastated much of Florida and killed 1,833 people across the US.

Florida Secretary of State Michael Ertel quits over ‘blackface drag’

The official announced his resignation within hours of the newspaper contacting the office of Governor Ron DeSantis for comment.

The governor’s office said in a statement: “The governor accepted Secretary Ertel’s resignation.”

Florida Secretary of State Michael Ertel

Florida Secretary of State Michael Ertel (Campaign photo)

Confirming his resignation, Ertel said: “I am submitting my resignation as Florida secretary of state effective immediately. It has been an honor to serve you and the voters of Florida.”

The Republican official, who had served as Seminole County Supervisor of Elections since 2005, appears to have deleted all of his social media pages in the wake of his resignation.

He has not, as yet, issued an apology.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis says resignation is ‘unfortunate’

At a news conference, Governor DeSantis responded to the resignation, saying: “It’s unfortunate.

“I think he’s done a lot of good work, but at the same time, I’ve got to have an administration that’s focused on what matters to Floridians, and I don’t want to get mired in kind-of side controversies, and so I felt it was best to just accept the resignation and move on.”

DeSantis added: “I think he regrets that whole thing… but at the same time, I want people to be able to lead and not have any of these things swirling around them. So I felt it was best to just move on.”

Opponents hit out at Ertel, DeSantis and the Republican Party establishment.

Former NAACP leader Cornell William Brooks tweeted: “When an elected official in Blackface, earrings & kerchief costumes himself as a ‘Katrina victim,’ it’s not merely: laughless insensitivity to hurricane victims, a politician as minstrel, racial caricature, but a symptom of an epidemic societal sickness.”

Andrew Gillum, the Democrat narrowly defeated by DeSantis in November’s gubernatorial election, would have been the state’s first African-American Governor.

The race was won by an extremely narrow margin, as DeSantis picked up 4,076,186 votes to Gillum’s 4,043,723.