Florida Elections Chief Resigns Over Images Posing As Hurricane Katrina Sufferer

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida’s high elections official abruptly resigned Thursday after a newspaper obtained photos of him in blackface posing as a Hurricane Katrina sufferer.

Secretary of State Michael Ertel, who had been on the job lower than three weeks, resigned simply hours after he testified about election lawsuits earlier than a state legislative committee.

The Tallahassee Democrat obtained photos taken at a Halloween social gathering 14 years in the past that present Ertel wearing blackface whereas sporting earrings, a New Orleans Saints bandanna and faux breasts below a purple T-shirt with “Katrina Sufferer” written on it. The pictures had been taken two months after the lethal storm ravaged the Gulf Coast area.

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

DeSantis stated Ertel regretted dressing up in blackface, however he stated that he was proper to step down after the photographs emerged.

“I would like individuals to have the ability to lead and never have any of these items swirling round,” stated DeSantis, who was in Marianna to debate hurricane reduction efforts for areas hit arduous by Hurricane Michael in October.

Throughout his marketing campaign for governor, DeSantis got here below hearth from Democrats who stated he made racially divisive feedback about Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.

Ertel was appointed Seminole County supervisor of elections in 2005 by then-Gov. Jeb Bush and gained 4 elections to maintain the workplace.

DeSantis final 12 months defeated Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who was searching for to develop into Florida’s first black governor. Gillum questioned DeSantis’ affiliation with individuals seen as racially divisive. DeSantis additionally got here below hearth for a remark he made in late August the place he stated that Florida voters shouldn’t “monkey this up” by supporting Gillum.