Ron DeSantis, Florida’s new Republican governor, ran one of the most overtly racist campaigns in recent history prior to his narrow November 2018 victory over Democrat Andrew Gillum.

Mike Ertel wearing blackface at a Halloween party in 2005 (Photo: Special to the Democrat)

On Thursday, DeSantis lost a top cabinet official when his secretary of state, Michael Ertel, resigned just weeks after the governor appointed him to the powerful position. The reason: a state newspaper obtained 14-year-old photos of Ertel dressed in blackface and pretending to be a Hurricane Katrina survivor. At the time, Ertel was Seminole County’s supervisor of elections. He confirmed to the Tallahassee Democrat that he was the white man in photos the paper obtained. The paper described his attire in the 2005 Halloween party photos as “blackface and red lipstick, wearing earrings and a New Orleans Saints bandanna, and falsies under a purple T-shirt that had ‘Katrina Victim’ written on it.”

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