Politician quits over blackface Hurricane Katrina costume | US News

The newly appointed secretary of state for Florida has resigned after pictures emerged of him in blackface while cross-dressing as a victim of Hurricane Katrina.

Michael Ertel was only appointed to the role last month, but handed his notice into governor Ron DeSantis on Thursday after several photographs from a Halloween party 14 years ago were published by the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper.

They show him in blackface, with lipstick, earrings, and a New Orleans Saints bandana, with false breasts underneath a purple shirt that had “Katrina Victim” written on it.

Mr Ertel was appointed secretary of state for Florida last month
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Mr Ertel was appointed secretary of state for Florida last month

According to the newspaper, the party took place just two months after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the east coast of the US, with the catastrophic damage most keenly felt in the Louisiana city of New Orleans.

Nearly 2,000 people were killed as a result of the category five hurricane, which also caused an estimated $125bn worth of damage.

Mr Ertel was an elections supervisor in Seminole County, Florida, at the time.

Hurricane Katrina caused catastrophic damage in New Orleans
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Hurricane Katrina caused catastrophic damage in New Orleans

The official was reportedly sent the photos last week and confirmed that the man pictured was him, but told the newspaper that there was “nothing I can say”.

Following his resignation, Mr DeSantis – who at 40 years old is the youngest serving governor in the US – said: “It’s unfortunate. I think he’s done a lot of good work.

“I don’t want to get mired into kind of side controversies, so I felt it was best to just accept the resignation and move on.”

Ron DeSantis said it was 'time to bring Florida together'
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Ron DeSantis is the youngest serving governor in the US

Mr Ertel – whose Twitter account has been deleted – spent only 28 days in the job, having been hired on 28 December.

He would have been responsible for overseeing elections in Florida and promoting its economic interests, such as its renowned theme park-driven tourism industry.

Mr DeSantis will now have to find someone to fill the gap – his first notable setback since winning a hard-fought election against Democrat rival Andrew Gillum in the November midterms.

The Republican, who was backed by President Donald Trump, sparked controversy during the campaign after urging voters not to “monkey this up” by electing his African-American opponent.

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