Michael Ertel, the newly appointed Secretary of State of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), resigned from his post on Thursday after a newspaper published photos of him posing as a “Hurricane Katrina victim” in blackface at a private Halloween party 14 years ago.
The Tallahassee Democrat obtained the photos and shared them with the Governor’s Office on Thursday, according to the paper.
Hours later, Gov. DeSantis’ office issued a statement.
“The governor accepted Secretary Ertel’s resignation,” the Governor’s Office said.
“I am submitting my resignation as Florida secretary of state effective immediately,” Ertel wrote in his letter, according to the Democrat. “It has been an honor to serve you and the voters of Florida.”
The photo, according to the Democrat, was taken two months after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. An estimated 1,836 died as a result of the category 5 storm, primarily from Louisiana (1,577) and Mississippi (238).
The photo, taken in 2005m, shows Ertel in blackface and red lipstick. He is also seen wearing earrings, a New Orleans Saints bandana and a purple t-shirt that said “Katrina Victim,” according to the paper.
The photo was reportedly taken eight months after Ertel was appointed Seminole County supervisor of elections.
Gov. DeSantis had his own racial controversy during his 2018 gubernatorial campaign against Andrew Gillum.
DeSantis warned Florida voters not to “monkey this up” by voting for his Democratic gubernatorial opponent Andrew Gillum. The attack came hours after Gillum made history by becoming the first African-American gubernatorial candidate to secure a nomination in Florida.