Thursday morning, Michael Ertel, appointed Secretary of State by Gov. Ron DeSantis weeks earlier, testified before a House committee about the several lawsuits filed over the 2018 election. By mid-afternoon, Ertel turned in his resignation, after photos emerged of him posing as a Hurricane Katrina victim in blackface at a private Halloween party 14 years ago. The photos obtained by the Tallahassee Democrat were shown to the Governor’s Office shortly after noon Thursday. About two hours later it issued a terse statement. “The governor accepted Secretary Ertel’s resignation,” the Governor’s Office said.
Shortly after the statement was issued, at a news conference on hurricane relief in Marianna, DeSantis addressed the resignation.
“It’s unfortunate. I think he’s done a lot of good work,” DeSantis said, adding that he accepted the resignation because “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.”
DeSantis also said he thinks Ertel regrets what happened 14-15 years ago, “but at the same time I want people to be able to lead and not have these things swirling around them.”