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GOP secretary of state in Florida resigns over blackface photo scandal

Democrat Andrew Gillum warned about racism and Gov. Ron DeSantis. He was right.

By Oliver Willis - January 24, 2019
Florida Secretary of State Mike Ertel

Florida’s Republican Secretary of State Mike Ertel has resigned after photos of him wearing blackface were uncovered.

The photos show Ertel dressed up as a victim of Hurricane Katrina at a Halloween party held just two months after the storm.

The Tallahassee Democrat newspaper described the photos as of a “white man in 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.”

A total of 1,833 Americans were killed in Hurricane Katrina, with the bulk of those deaths occurring in New Orleans, Louisiana. Sixty percent of New Orleans residents are black.

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) accepted Ertel’s resignation, made in response to the pictures being uncovered. Despite the racist costume, DeSantis said, “It’s unfortunate. He’s done a lot of good work.”

Ertel was appointed to his position by DeSantis. The position has enormous oversight over election access in a state with a long and sordid history of restricting the rights of black voters.

At the time of his appointment, DeSantis hailed Ertel as someone who would “ensure that Florida voters are confident that elections continue to be fair and accurate.”

DeSantis has a history of racism that dogged him throughout his campaign. He was exposed as the moderator of a racist Facebook page and had given speeches at racist conferences.

Trump, a racist, endorsed DeSantis early in the campaign and held multiple rallies for him in Florida.

After he won his party’s nomination, DeSantis urged Florida voters not to “monkey” around by voting for the Democratic nominee Andrew Gillum, who is black.

In his debate with DeSantis, Gillum memorably contextualized DeSantis’ approach to racial issues: “I’m not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist — I’m simply saying the racists believe he’s a racist.”

The man DeSantis chose to be Florida’s secretary of state, with oversight of the state’s elections and control over equal and fair access to the ballot box, has been exposed as a racist.

Andrew Gillum was right, and the DeSantis era is just beginning.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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