Caught in Blackface, Florida Elections Chief Resigns
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida's new elections chief was forced to resign on Thursday after just three weeks on the job, when a newspaper published pictures of him appearing in blackface. Secretary of State Michael Ertel resigned just hours after testifying before a state legislative committee about elections lawsuits following Florida's controversial midterms.The Tallahassee Democrat published photos of him at a Halloween party in 2005, dressed in blackface, wearing earrings, a New Orleans Saints bandanna and fake breasts, under a shirt with "Katrina Victim" written on it.

That year, Ertel served as Seminole County Supervisor of Elections. Former Leon County Elections Supervisor Ion Sancho recalls Ertel having an independent streak as a supervisor.

"He really kind of ran his own independent operation, used social media well, and I was shocked by this whole story," says Sancho.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Ertel regrets dressing up in blackface and said he was right to step down.

Gov. DeSantis took Ertel's recommendation to suspend Palm Beach County Elections Supervisor Susan Bucher, claiming the Democrat was "incompetent" and broke elections laws. Democrats have criticized the suspension as politically motivated.

Sancho says Ertel's replacement should be someone with experience, perhaps another supervisor.

"And quite frankly, I think of all the Secretary of State duties, the one that they're going to have to deal with first is elections," says Sancho.

Ertel was appointed by then-Gov. Jeb Bush in 2005, the same year Hurricane Katrina blasted the southeast coast, leaving in its wake more than 1,800 deaths, catastrophic flooding and billions of dollars of damage, mostly in New Orleans.

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - FL


Advertise Here

About Us

A weekly podcast focusing on the people and stories shaping Florida politics produced by Trimmel Gomes an award-winning journalist and former statewide news director of Florida Public Radio. Gomes hosted its flagship program "Capital Report" and created the public affairs program "It's About Florida." Gomes is political commentator and regular political contributor to WTXL ABC 27 in Tallahassee.


Subscribe to Podcast

You only need to subscribe to The Rotunda one time. After that, new episodes will automatically be downloaded to your smartphone, tablet or computer.

Contact Us


(772) 342-4024

Mailing Address
1700 North Monroe Street
Suite 331
Tallahassee, Florida 32303

Gomes Media Strategies