Florida's secretary of state resigned Thursday after a newspaper obtained photos of him in blackface dressed as a Hurricane Katrina victim at a 2005 Halloween party.
The Tallahassee Democrat published photos of Ertel on Thursday reporting that they had been taken at a Halloween party 14 years ago. The photos show the former secretary of state appearing in blackface, while wearing earrings, a New Orleans Saints bandanna, and fake breasts under a purple t-shirt that read "Katrina Victim".
The paper says the photos were taken in 2005, two months after the devastating hurricane tore through the Gulf Coast region, killing more than 1,800 people.
Ertel spent the morning on Thursday testifying about election lawsuits before a legislative committee before emailing his resignation to Governor Ron DeSantis.
"I am submitting my resignation as Florida secretary of state effective immediately," Ertel wrote in an email. "It has been an honor to serve you and the voters of Florida."
Ertel had acted as the elections supervisor for Seminole County until last month when the governor selected him to take over the state department that oversees their elections.
"The governor accepted Secretary Ertel's resignation," the Governor's Office said in response to the story.
“I want people to be able to lead and not have any of these things swirling around,” DeSantis said at a press conference later that afternoon. "I don’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."
The chief of staff for the Department of State, Jennifer Kennedy, was appointed as interim Secretary of State.