icon bookmark-bicon bookmarkicon cameraicon checkicon chevron downicon chevron lefticon chevron righticon chevron upicon closeicon v-compressicon downloadicon editicon v-expandicon fbicon fileicon filtericon flag ruicon full chevron downicon full chevron lefticon full chevron righticon full chevron upicon gpicon insicon mailicon moveicon-musicicon mutedicon nomutedicon okicon v-pauseicon v-playicon searchicon shareicon sign inicon sign upicon stepbackicon stepforicon swipe downicon tagicon tagsicon tgicon trashicon twicon vkicon yticon wticon fm
25 Jan, 2019 15:02

Florida secretary of state resigns amid ‘Hurricane Katrina victim’ blackface scandal (PHOTOS)

Florida secretary of state resigns amid ‘Hurricane Katrina victim’ blackface scandal (PHOTOS)

Florida Secretary of State Michael Ertel has been forced to resign in disgrace just weeks after taking office after photographs of him dressed as a ‘Hurricane Katrina victim’, in both blackface and in drag, appeared online.

The offending photo was taken in 2005, just two months after Hurricane Katrina, which killed 1,836 people and caused a rough total of $125 billion of damage, devastated New Orleans. Ertel’s face is painted black and he is wearing red lipstick, earrings, fake breasts, a New Orleans Saints bandana, and purple T-shirt emblazoned with the words “Katrina Victim.”

Ertel, 49, was appointed to the office of Secretary of State by Governor Ron DeSantis, an ardent Trump supporter who won a bitter and hard-fought victory to become governor. The campaign was marred by racist robocalls made against African-American democratic candidate and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.

READ MORE: What privilege? CNN analyst accuses BLACK radio host of ‘white privilege’

While DeSantis’ campaign distanced itself from the white supremacist group found ultimately responsible for the automated calls, the entire campaign left residents divided. DeSantis also made controversial remarks during the campaign in which he urged voters not to “monkey this up.”

Florida secretary of state resigns amid ‘Hurricane Katrina victim’ blackface scandal (PHOTOS)

Ertel’s blackface photos were obtained by the Tallahassee Democrat and sent to DeSantis’ office on January 23.

“The governor accepted Secretary Ertel’s resignation,” the Governor’s Office said.

“It’s unfortunate. I think he’s done a lot of good work,” DeSantis said later on Thursday.

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.

When questioned by the Tallahassee Democrat about the images, Ertel was lost for words.

“There’s nothing I can say,” he said.

The photos are apparently the only blemish on an otherwise successful career in public office, with Ertel increasing voter registration and improving overall access to the elections office.

Ertel has a background in media relations, providing expertise in the aftermath of the 2004 Florida hurricanes for Visit Florida. He previously served in a PR role for the US Army, working during the 1992 LA riots and during US intervention in Macedonia and Bosnia.

Despite this, his all-advised costume choice has incurred the wrath of Twitter users.

A small few did defend the offensive costume, however.

This isn’t the first time the issue of blackface has emerged in US public life. Former Fox and MSNBC host Megyn Kelly sparked a tidal wave of backlash for questioning whether the practice of dressing in blackface was indeed racist at all.

“What is racist?” Kelly said in late 2018, just days before her unceremonious (though lucrative) firing from her new network, NBC. “You truly do get in trouble if you are a white person who puts on blackface at Halloween or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween.”

Also on rt.com ‘What is racist?’ Megyn Kelly’s ‘blackface’ comments spark backlash

Like this story? Share it with a friend!