Florida Secretary of State resigns over racism scandal after mocking Hurricane Katrina victims
On December 28, Gov. Ron DeSantis named Michael Ertel as Ken Detzner’s replacement for Florida Secretary of State. Now Ertel has resigned from his new post because of a racism scandal.
Images of the new Secretary of State were found that showed him wearing blackface to mock Hurricane Katrina victims in 2005.
On Thursday morning, Florida Secretary of State Michael Ertel, 49, testified before a House committee about several lawsuits filed over the 2018 election. By mid-afternoon, he’d handed in his resignation.
This is not bias as some have stated. This is hate. Thousands lost their lives due to Katrina; black and white. No jokes, or hate jokes about it are acceptable to me.— blend Ings (@valtanfon1) January 25, 2019
Let him explain to his kids and wife that he lost his job because of hate.
Scandalous pictures of Ertel posing as a Hurricane Katrina victim in blackface were uncovered by the “Tallahassee Democrat.” The incident took place at a private Halloween party 14 years ago.
The images reached the Governor's Office shortly after noon on the same day and two hours later a statement was issued about Ertel’s resignation. The Governor’s Office said: “The governor accepted Secretary Ertel's resignation."
This is the most despicable thing I have ever seen. There is so much going on here that is so wrong, I don’t know where to start.— Jen Degtjarewsky (@JenDegtjarewsky) January 25, 2019
We do not need people like this in any office in the United States or anywhere else. #racism #sexism #hatemongers #Tallahassee #NOLA
At a news conference on hurricane relief in Marianna, Gov. Ron DeSantis addressed the resignation. Referring to Ertel he said, "It's unfortunate. I think he's done a lot of good work."
He then explained why he’d accepted the resignation saying:
"I don't want to get mired into kind of side controversies, and so I felt it was best to just accept the resignation and move on."
I criticized @RonDeSantisFL’s campaign for what I saw as racist overtones. Until now, in his brief time as Governor he’s shown the opposite. Today, he “accepted the resignation” of his Sec of State after pic of the guy in “blackface” emerged. Good! https://t.co/lIWTl8bj6q— Ana Navarro-Cárdenas (@ananavarro) January 24, 2019
DeSantis explained that he thought Ertel regretted what happened in 2005, "but at the same time I want people to be able to lead and not have these things swirling around them." The blackface images were taken eight months after Ertel was appointed Seminole County supervisor of elections.
It was also two months after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. In the pictures, the State Secretary was seen wearing blackface, red lipstick, big earrings, a New Orleans Saints bandanna, and fake breasts under a purple T-shirt that was written "Katrina Victim."
Sooner or later bigots always reveal themselves.— Vic Cochetti (@CochettiVic) January 24, 2019
His email resignation that was sent around 2 p.m. read:
"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."
There's bad decisions as a normal Joe and then there's bad decisions when you are an elected official. Either case blackface and mocking disaster victims is a good way to get yourself fired. This was the obvious conclusion.— Medoria (@Medoria) January 24, 2019
Before the images came up, Ertel had a seemingly clean public career. He was known for increasing voter registration and making the elections office more accessible to the public.
Our updated story: Dunleavy commissioner resigns after former employer alleges he lied on his resume. Meanwhile, another appointee in the department has backed away from a job after vulgar, vitriolic and misogynistic social-media comments came to light https://t.co/vqB5m9Cnn4— Anchorage Daily News (@adndotcom) January 25, 2019
On the same day, Department of Administration Commissioner Jonathan Quick tendered his resignation. The member of Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s Cabinet resigned amid accusations that he’d lied about his business background.