Mike Ertel out as Florida secretary of state after blackface photos surface

Ertel was formerly Seminole County supervisor of elections

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Mike Ertel, former Seminole County supervisor of elections, resigned as Florida's secretary of state after the Tallahassee Democrat showed photos of Ertel in blackface makeup to the governor's office.

The Democrat reports the photos show Ertel as a Hurricane Katrina victim in blackface at a Halloween party 14 years ago. The photos were taken while Ertel was serving as Seminole County's supervisor of elections.

Ertel, 49, was tapped by Gov. Ron DeSantis on Dec. 28, 2018, to serve as secretary of state, replacing Ken Detzner.

According to the Democrat, the paper showed the images to the governor's office, and hours later, Ertel turned in his resignation.

DeSantis was at an event in the Florida Panhandle on Thursday when the story was first published. He told reporters he didn't want to get muddled into side controversies and thought it was best to accept Ertel's resignation immediately.

"I think it's unfortunate, I think he regrets that whole thing 14 or 15 years ago. At the same time, I want people to lead and not have any of these things swirling around him so I felt it was best to just move on," DeSantis said.

Before Ertel became supervisor of elections, he served in the U.S. Army and worked as a writer and journalist. He also worked as a public information officer for both the Seminole County government and Visit Florida.

“This is not the Mike Ertel I know, but clearly the optics are terrible, and he had no choice but to resign," Seminole County Commissioner Lee Constantine told News 6.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

The photo was taken in 2005, eight months after Michael Ertel was appointed Seminole County supervisor of elections and two months after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans.

Posted by Tallahassee Democrat on Thursday, January 24, 2019