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Gov. Ron DeSantis appoints Hillsborough County Judge Laurel Lee to take over elections post

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Posted at 2:37 PM, Jan 28, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-29 05:19:27-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is appointing a circuit judge to replace the state's top election official who abruptly resigned.

DeSantis announced Monday that Laurel Lee will replace Secretary of State Michael Ertel. Ertel resigned last Thursday after a newspaper obtained photos from a 2005 party where he was dressed in blackface while posing as a Hurricane Katrina victim. The photo was taken several months after Ertel had become election supervisor for Seminole County.

Florida's Republican governor said he accepted Ertel's resignation to avoid getting "mired" in controversies. Last year, DeSantis defeated Democrat Andrew Gillum in a bitter race with racial overtones.

Lee has been a judge in Hillsborough County since 2013. She is married to State Sen. Tom Lee.

Laurel Lee has previously worked as both a federal prosecutor.