Florida State Senator Frank Artiles resigns after racial remarks

Posted at 11:32 AM, Apr 21, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-21 12:16:08-04

A Florida state senator who used a racial slur and vulgar insults during a private, after-hours conversation with two African-American colleagues resigned Friday.

Sen. Frank Artiles, a Republican who represents District 40 in Miami-Dade, said he was stepping down in a letter to Senate President Joe Negron.
"My actions and my presence in government is now a distraction to my colleagues, the legislative process, and the citizens of our great State," the letter read. "I am responsible and I am accountable and effective immediately, I am resigning from the Florida State Senate."

The matter began Monday night during a private conversation with two African-American senators at a members-only club near the Capitol. Artiles used obscenities with Sen. Audrey Gibson, including one particularly offensive to women. Sen. Perry Thurston intervened and Artiles, a Cuban-American from the Miami area, used a variation of the "n-word" and used a vulgarity to describe Republican Senate President Joe Negron, according to the complaint filed Wednesday by Thurston.
Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, who chairs the Senate Rules Committee, reviewed the complaint and found it's likely Artiles' comments and behavior violated Senate rules. The Florida Legislative Black Caucus had asked for Artiles' expulsion.

Artiles gave a three-minute apology on the Senate floor Wednesday.
"I extend a heartfelt apology to my colleagues and to all of those I have offended," Artiles said. "My harsh words have adversely reflected more on me than they could ever have on anyone else."

Statement from President Negron Regarding the Resignation of Senator Frank Artiles

“Senator Artiles made the right decision. 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. We all owe him a debt of gratitude for serving our country in the United State Marine Corps, where he fought for our freedom in the Global War on Terror. Additionally, his years of service in the Florida House and Senate demonstrate a commitment to helping others that will not end with his departure from the Senate. My Senate colleagues and I wish Senator Artiles and his family well.”

“Senator Thurston has informed me that he is withdrawing his Rule 1.43 Complaint. Accordingly, I have directed the Special Master to close her investigation. No further action by the Senate will be taken in regard to this matter.”

Story from our news partner NBCMiami and the Associated Press. The WPTV webteam also contributed to this report.