Less than three weeks into his new gig as Florida Secretary of State, the Tallahassee Democrat reported on Thursday afternoon that Mike Ertel has resigned, after pictures emerged of him wearing blackface at a Halloween party in 2005. His costume, according to the Democrat? Hurricane Katrina victim.
The Democrat obtained the photos last week and showed them to new Gov. Ron DeSantis, who wrote a book in 2011 where he excused slavery. Hours later, DeSantis’ office issued a statement confirming that it had accepted Ertel’s resignation. When the Democrat confronted Ertel with the pictures last week, he confirmed it was him. “There’s nothing I can say,” he told the paper.
The same year he wore the racist Halloween costume, Ertel was appointed by then-Gov. Jeb Bush as Supervisor of Elections in Seminole County. He served in that role for nearly 14 years before his appointment as DeSantis’ Secretary of State (the top elections official in a state that has no earthly idea how to run them), a role that he served in for exactly 16 days before being forced to resign in disgrace.
Interestingly, the Democrat reports, Ertel’s record on voting rights is not what you would expect from a man who got caught wearing blackface and mocking black hurricane victims a month after their lives were destroyed. Ertel reportedly won a “Martin Luther King Jr.” award for his work expanding voting rights, albeit from a city that’s 85 percent white, and he criticized former Gov. Rick Scott’s voter purge in 2012.
The news comes as DeSantis and the Republican-controlled Florida legislature have attempted to slow-walk the implementation of Amendment 4, the ballot measure approved by Florida voters last year which restored voting rights to 1.4 million people convicted of felonies. (Many have still registered to vote.)
It sure is weird that this kind of thing just continues to keep happening to Ron DeSantis.