Florida State Senator Frank Artiles resigned on Friday after hurling obscenities and racial slurs at two colleagues over drinks at a Tallahassee bar earlier this week. Although Artiles formally apologized on the Senate floor, many of his fellow legislators and constituents continued to call for his immediate resignation.
After 10 p.m. on Monday, Artiles had been drinking at the members-only Governors Club while sitting next to Sens. Audrey Gibson and Perry Thurston when Artiles began making derogatory comments and racial slurs regarding Senate President Joe Negron. Thurston recalled, “He called Joe Negron a pussy.”
After Artiles failed to apologize on Tuesday, Thurston notified Senate Minority Leader Oscar Braynon of the incident. According to the complaint, Artiles had referred to Gibson as a “bitch” and a “girl” while repeatedly using the n-word.
“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,” Artiles wrote. “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 I ask for your forgiveness.
“My actions and my presence in government is now a distraction to my colleagues, the legislative process, and the citizens of our great State,” Artiles continued. “I am responsible and I am accountable and effective immediately, I am resigning from the Florida State Senate.”
“I applaud and welcome Senator Artiles’ decision to resign today. It was not only the right decision, but the honorable one, for himself and the people of Florida,” Senate Democratic leader Oscar Braynon said in a statement on Friday. “I take no pleasure in these unfortunate events. But I urge that we learn from them. In our communities, our state, and our country, there should be a message of hope, of tolerance, of unity. We cannot afford the high cost words of divisiveness and cruelty leave in their wake.”
“He made the right decision,” Negron stated during a press conference on Friday. “All of us are accountable for our actions and comments.”
“We regret that this action was necessary, but we believe it was the right action to take,” Thurston wrote in a recent statement. “The actions of this Senate, and those of the multitude of Floridians who stood up in objection to the events of this week are to be lauded. They underscored the critical lesson that words can be painful, they can be hurtful, and they can have consequences.”
“This experience has allowed me to see that for too many years I have sacrificed what I hold most dear in my life, my wife and my two young daughters,” Artiles declared in a statement on Friday. “While I take full responsibility for using language that was vulgar and inappropriate, my family has fallen victim to a political process that can distort the truth for the sole purpose of political gain.”