Florida Secretary of State Forced to Resign

On Thursday, Jan. 24, Mike Ertel resigned from his position of Florida Secretary of State after controversial photos were released through the media. Before receiving his appointed position by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Ertel served eight years in the Army. He was elected Seminole County supervisor of elections not once, but four times. The former Secretary of State was also honored with awards for his success with voter registration. Currently, Ertel has been immersed in the debate over Amendment 4 which would restore voting rights for ex-felons. Once described as a “glimmer of hope,” Ertel has resigned after blackface photos have emerged.

The photos that emerged were claimed to have been taken in 2005 at a private Halloween party. In the photos, Ertel not only appears in blackface but seems to be mocking the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. The photos were taken only two months after Katrina wreaked havoc on New Orleans with the death toll reaching 1,800 people across the Gulf Coast. At the time, Ertel was the Seminole County supervisor of elections.

According to the Tallahassee Democrat, Ertel is not the only U.S. politician to have dressed in blackface within the past 20 years; he is one out of five politicians who have participated in blackface.

The photos reveal Ertel wearing red lipstick, a Katrina victim shirt and blackface.

Courtesy: LoveBScott

 

When asked by the Tallahassee Democrat, Ertel did confirm that he was the man in the pictures. He said, “there is nothing I can say”.

Ertel submitted his resignation at 2 p.m. on Jan. 24 via email. Governor Ron DeSantis accepted the resignation. The Governor’s office claims to have never seen the photos before they emerged on Jan. 24.

In his resignation email, Ertel said, “it has been an honor to serve you and the voters of Florida.”

It was a disappointment for Governor DeSantis who hoped that Ertel would preserve “the state’s historical and cultural heritage.”

Governor DeSantis spoke about the incident saying, "I think it's unfortunate. I think he regrets that whole thing 14, 15 years ago. 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 just to move on".

A brief explanation of blackface: blackface was invented by white performers during comedic performances called Minstrels. The first Minstrel show was recorded around the 1830s in New York, where they commonly distorted the features and cultures of the black community, depicting them as lazy and ignorant. Blackface was used to create stereotypes and is highly offensive. To read more about the origins regarding this discriminatory practice, visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture.