Former Florida Secretary of State Michael Ertel finally apologizes for blackface photos

A little more than a week after the Tallahassee Democrat published photos of him in blackface, former Florida Secretary of State Michael Ertel has finally apologized.

Ertel resigned Jan. 24 after photos surfaced from a private Halloween party in 2005, about eight months after Ertel was appointed as the Seminole County Supervisor of Elections. The photos show Ertel in blackface wearing red lipstick, earrings, a New Orleans Saints bandanna and a purple T-shirt with "Katrina Victim" written on it. The photos were taken weeks after Hurricane Katrina killed hundreds in New Orleans.

In Facebook post on Sunday, Ertel wrote, "I'm a better man than I was fourteen years ago. Yet over the past week I have been rightfully apologizing for something I did Halloween night, 2005. For those who have not received a personal apology yet — I'm sorry."

The 49-year-old Republican official added that "something stupid" he did more than a decade ago presented someone from his past with an "opportunity for revenge."

"While public revenge may be sweet for them, my private redemption, new family, and blessed life have been sweeter," Ertel wrote. "Regardless of the circumstances which ended my public role, I’m a better private citizen for having served my fellow countrymen, first in the military, then in elected office, and most recently as Secretary of State."

Ertel had been recently appointed by newly elected Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to the Secretary of State position for his elections expertise. DeSantis quickly replaced Ertel with Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Laurel M. Lee.

"I think he's done a lot of good work, but at the same time I have got to have an administration that is going to be focused on what matters to Floridians," DeSantis said after Ertel's resignation. "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."

Ertel didn't expand further on the racist costume he wore, but he did say that "few could have imagined a homeless teenager would achieve any branch of success, much less be asked to lead the Department of State for our nation’s third largest state."

"In our country, the American Dream is a reality," Ertel wrote. "I now look forward to my next adventure, and my next opportunity to – once again – overcome the odds."

Stay on top of Orlando news and views. Sign up for our weekly Headlines newsletter.


Since 1990, Orlando Weekly has served as the free, independent voice of Orlando, and we want to keep it that way.

Becoming an Orlando Weekly Supporter for as little as $5 a month allows us to continue offering readers access to our coverage of local news, food, nightlife, events, and culture with no paywalls.

Join today because you love us, too.

Scroll to read more Orlando Area News articles

Join Orlando Weekly Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.