Florida Secretary of State resigns after blackface photos emerge

Florida's Secretary of State resigned on Thursday after a local newspaper obtained photos of him dressed in blackface as a Hurricane Katrina victim.

Michael Ertel, 49, a Republican working for Gov. Ron DeSantis, submitted his resignation at 2 p.m., just hours after he testified about election lawsuits before a state legislative committee. He was sworn into office on Jan. 8.

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Shortly after Ertel's resignation, which he wrote would immediately take effect, the Tallahassee Democrat published photos of Ertel from 2005, a reported two months after Hurricane Katrina destroyed the Gulf Coast region.

They allegedly show Ertel, then the Seminole County supervisor of elections, wearing blackface, red lipstick, earrings and falsies underneath a purple shirt that had the words "Katrina Victim" on it.

The newspaper reported that when it texted Ertel the photos, he identified himself as the person pictured. "There's nothing I can say," Ertel reportedly told the Democrat.

DeSantis' office told Fox News on Thursday the governor accepted Ertel's resignation. Earlier in the day, while speaking at a news conference on hurricane relief, DeSantis reportedly said the situation was "unfortunate" because Ertel had "done a lot of good work."

"At the same time, you know I've got to have an administration that's going to be focused on what matters to Floridians and I don't want to get mired into kind of side controversies," DeSantis told reporters. "And so I felt it was best to just, you know, accept the resignation and move on."

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The governor added he thinks Ertel "regrets" the photos.

DeSantis, during his campaign for governor, came under fire from Democrats who said he made racially divisive comments about his opponent, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.