Editor's Note: The photos of Michael Ertel were provided courtesy of the Tallahassee Democrat, which first broke the story.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Florida's top elections official has abruptly resigned after a newspaper obtained pictures of him in blackface posing as a Hurricane Katrina victim.

Secretary of State Michael Ertel resigned Thursday afternoon just hours after he testified about election lawsuits before a state legislative committee.

The Tallahassee Democrat obtained pictures taken at a Halloween party 14 years ago that show Ertel dressed in blackface. The photos were taken two months after the deadly storm ravaged the Gulf Coast region.

More than 1,800 people died during Hurricane Katrina, according to a PBS News estimate.

Ertel had been the Seminole County supervisor of elections and was picked by new Gov. Ron DeSantis to take over the department that oversees elections.

Gov. DeSantis, who accepted the resignation, addressed the situation during an unrelated news conference on Thursday.

"It's unfortunate. He's done a lot of good work," DeSantis told the newspaper.

During his campaign for governor, DeSantis came under fire from Democrats who said he made racially divisive comments about Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum.

Previous: Critics accuse Ron DeSantis of racism after suggesting electing Andrew Gillum would 'monkey this up'

Michael Ertel
Courtesy of Tallahassee Democrat

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