Florida secretary of state resigns after photo reportedly shows him in blackface

The photo, obtained by The Tallahassee Democrat, shows Secretary of State Mike Ertel with brown face paint, wearing red lipstick, earrings and a shirt that said "Katrina Victim."

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By Doha Madani

The newly appointed secretary of state in Florida resigned Thursday after a 2005 photo of him reportedly in blackface mocking Hurricane Katrina victims surfaced.

The photo, obtained by The Tallahassee Democrat, shows Secretary of State Mike Ertel with brown face paint, wearing red lipstick, earrings and a New Orleans Saints bandanna. Ertel also had fake breasts under a purple shirt that said "Katrina Victim," according to the Democrat.

Mike Ertel speaks at a panel discussion in Tallahassee, Florida, on Jan. 30, 2013.Steve Cannon / AP file

The photo was from a private Halloween party in 2005, just months after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans, according to the Democrat.

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Florida's Department of State confirmed Ertel's resignation to NBC News Thursday. The office did not respond to questions regarding the photo, which NBC News has not verified.

Ertel was appointed by Gov. Ron DeSantis on Dec. 28.

DeSantis acknowledged Ertel's resignation during a news conference Thursday, saying he thought Ertel regretted the incident.

The governor also said he wants "people to lead and not have any of these things swirling around them."

"At the same time, you know, I've got to have an administration that’s going to be focused on what matters to Floridians and I don’t want to get mired into kind of side controversies," DeSantis said. "So I felt it was just best to, you know, accept the resignation and move on."

Ertel submitted a two-sentence resignation in an email to DeSantis. His signature line includes a quote from Abraham Lincoln.

"These men ask for just the same thing, fairness, and fairness only. This, so far as in my power, they, and others shall have," Lincoln wrote in May 1860.

Before joining the governor's office, Ertel was the elections supervisor in Seminole County.