He Finally Resigned After A Night Of Racist And Sexist Comments Against Fellow Senator Went Public
It’s been a busy week for Florida Senator Frank Artiles, who on Monday went on a racist and sexist rant that ultimately led to his resignation on Friday. While at Tallahassee’s members only Governors Club, Cuban-American Artiles dropped the n-word in front of fellow African-American colleagues Sens. Audrey Gibson of Jacksonville and Perry Thurston of Fort Lauderdale. Artiles also called Sen. Gibson a “b-tch,” a “girl,” and “this f-cking asshole.” He then proceeded to drop the n-word when referring to Florida Senate President Joe Negron, who Artiles also referred to as a “pu–y.”
Artiles’ was elected as Republican Senator in 2016.
According to the Miami Herald, Sen. Gibson later described Artiles behavior that night as, “[…] the most disrespect I’ve ever encountered.”
— Florida Politics (@Fla_Pol) April 21, 2017
USA Today reports that Florida Governor Rick Scott reached out to Sen. Gibson, expressing grief over Artiles’ behavior: “I talked to Senator Gibson right after I heard about it, and said I’m sorry that anyone would talk to her like that. She’s a wonderful person. But nobody should be talked to like that.”
The following day, Artiles went into damage control mode by apologizing to Sen. Gibson, Motto-Time reports.
— Chris Tisch (@christisch1) April 19, 2017
“In an exchange with a colleague of mine in the Senate,” Artiles said, according to Time-Motto, “I unfortunately let my temper get the best of me. There is no excuse for the exchange that occurred and I have apologized to my Senate colleagues and regret the incident profusely.”
By this time, however, the Florida Democratic Party was already calling for Artiles’ resignation.
As revelations of Artiles’ highly problematic behavior became public, several prominent political figures began asking for the Artiles’ resignation.
Florida's black legislative caucus will formally ask Senate President Joe Negron to begin process to expel Sen. Frank Artiles
— Steve Bousquet (@stevebousquet) April 19, 2017
The Miami Herald reports that Senate President Negron later said, “Racial slurs and profane, sexist insults have no place in conversation between Senators and will not be tolerated while I am serving as Senate President.” Senate President Negron, however, did not see any need to pursue disciplinary action.
On Wednesday, USA Today reports, Senate President Negron told Artiles to publicly apologize to Sen. Gibson for his comments, which he did. Senate President Negron considered the matter closed, but on Thursday Senator Thurston filed a complaint, which opened the door to an official investigation.
In a scathing OP-ED, the Sun Sentinel called out the Senator, saying, “Artiles’ continued presence is a stain on the party, a blight on the Legislature and an affront to the Miami-Dade citizens he represents.”
As pressure mounted, Artiles sent an official letter to Senate President Negron offering his resignation.
— MARIA FERNANDA LOPEZ (@mafelopeztv) April 21, 2017
In his resignation letter, Artiles again apologized for his behavior, saying:
It is clear to me my recent actions and words that I spoke fell far short of what I expect for myself, and for this I am very sorry. I apologize to my family and friends and I apologize to all of my fellow Senators and lawmakers.
To the people of my district and all of Miami-Dade, I am sorry I have let you down and ask for your forgiveness.
After resigning, information about Artiles’ questionable practices came to light.
— Down Ballot (@downballot) April 21, 2017
Recent findings show that during Artiles’ campaign for the senate, his election committee — Veterans For Conservative Principles — hired both a Playboy model and a Hooters calendar girl as political consultants. For their efforts, they received $1,500 and $2,000 respectively, the Tampa Bay Times reports. Not much else is known about what skills they offered, as details are still coming out.
Senate President Negron acknowledged that Artiles did the right thing by submitting his resignation.
According to USA Today, Senate President Negron released the following statement on the matter: “As Senator Artiles has noted, he holds himself responsible and accountable for his actions and comments. Despite the events of the last week, Senator Artiles has a long and proud record of public service.”
Aside from serving as a Florida Senator, Artiles is also an ex-Marine, which he noted in his resignation.
After Artiles announced his resignation, Sen. Gibson released her own short statement:
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The brief statement said, “I would like to thank everyone for their outpouring of support. This has been an ordeal that no one should have to endure. I wish [Artiles] well in all of his endeavors.”
USA Today reports that a Florida Governor Scott must set up a special election to fill the newly vacated seat.