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Florida Secretary of State resigns after photos of him in blackface surface

Edduin Carvajal
Jan 25, 2019
05:29 P.M.
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Michael Ertel, who started working as Florida’s Secretary of State on January 8, submitted his resignation only two weeks later after controversial photos surfaced.

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Tallahassee Democrat, a local newspaper, obtained the images, in which Ertel appeared dressed in blackface as a Hurricane Katrina victim during a Halloween party in 2005.

Ertel, 49, was the Seminole County supervisor of elections when those photos were taken. They showed him wearing blackface, red lipstick, earring, and even false breasts under a dark purple shirt that had “Katrina Victim” on it.

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Blackface is a form of theatrical make-up mostly used by non-Black performers to represent a Black person. In the US, it is generally considered highly offensive and disrespectful. However, it is a common practice in other countries.

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GOVERNOR’S THOUGHTS ON ERTEL’S RESIGNATION

Soon after Ertel submitted his resignation, the Governor’s Office released a statement pointing out that the Governor Ron DeSantis had accepted it. DeSantis himself addressed the situation during a news conference on hurricane relief in Marianna.

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“It's unfortunate. I think he's done a lot of good work,” admitted the man, who later said that he accepted the resignation because he didn’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."

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Apart from that, DeSantis shared that he thought Ertel regretted what had happened in 2005, but that he also wanted people to “be able to lead” and not having such a controversial history behind.

Official portrait of former Florida Secretary of State Mike Ertel | Source: Wikimedia Commons

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In Ertel’s resignation, he wrote, “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."

Mike Ertel dressed in blackface for a Halloween party in 2005 | Source: Wikimedia Commons

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KEVIN HART’S CASE

It is not the first time that someone’s past misbehavior makes them resign from a gig. One of the most publicized cases is that of Kevin Hart, who was chosen as the Oscars host.

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However, he was in the middle of the storm after some old homophobic tweets resurfaced. The Academy asked him to issue an apology, but the actor refused to do so as he had addressed that topic several times before.

Soon later, things escalated so much that he decided to step down. In a tweet, the man said he didn’t want to be a distraction at the Oscars, hence, his decision. Then, Hart apologized to the LGBTQ community.

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