Florida Secretary of State Michael Ertel, a Republican, resigned Friday after photos of him dressed up in blackface were obtained by the Tallahassee Democrat.
"I am submitting my resignation as Florida Secretary of State effective immediately," Ertel said in an email to Florida governor Ron DeSantis. "It has been an honor to serve you and the voters of Florida."
The photos of Ertel are from a Halloween party in 2005. In addition to blackface, the elected official can be seen wearing fake breasts, large hoop earrings, a New Orleans Saints bandana and a white t-shirt with "Katrina Victim" written across the front. The photos were taken two months after Hurricane Katrina wrecked New Orleans, a city that is around 60% black.
When asked about the photos, DeSantis claimed that he believed Ertel regrets the costume. “I think he regrets that whole thing 14, 15 years ago, but at the same time I want people to be able to lead, and not have any of these things swirling around them. So I felt it was best just to move on.”
During Ertel's brief tenure as Secretary of State, he oversaw Florida's elections as well as promoting the state's economic interests across the globe. At the time the photos were taken, Ertel was the Seminole County supervisor of elections, a post which he held up until DeSantis appointed him Secretary of State in December.
Following the inauguration of Donald Trump in 2017, Ertel challenged the president's claims that rampant voter fraud was at play during the election. "To be clear: voter fraud is likely one of the least-committed felonies in America," he tweeted. "Barring system-wide collusion, it is simply not the case that ‘millions voted illegally.'" Despite his criticisms of the president, Ertel claimed that there were holes in the system that needed to be alleviated.
Ertel has deleted his Twitter in light of his resignation.