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Scott, Bondi: Frank Artiles Needs to Go for Profane Comments, Racial Slur

April 20, 2017 - 5:15pm

Attorney General Pam Bondi and Gov. Rick Scott are saying Sen. Frank Artiles needs to step down or be fired from the Senate over a profanity-laced rant and racial slur he hurled at a black lawmaker earlier this week.

On Thursday, Bondi told Politico Florida she thought Artiles should resign from office for his use of the “n-word” and other profanities directed at Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville.

“There is simply no room for racial, hurtful language spoken to your colleagues or anyone else,” Bondi Said. “I have always liked Frank and hope he gives serious consideration to resigning so the focus can return to important legislative issues.”

Bondi was the first Florida Cabinet member to weigh in on the controversy, which has rocked Tallahassee this week.

It wasn’t long before the governor chimed in, however, saying Artiles’ comments were unacceptable.

"If I had an employee who said what he said, I would immediately fire him,” Scott told the Associated Press Thursday.

The comments came after reports swirled that Artiles had verbally attacked Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, at the Governor's Club Monday evening. 

According to the Miami Herald, Artiles was heard to use the word "niggers," though he claims he really had said "niggas," which he called a harmless slang-term.  The Herald also reported Artiles referred to Gibson as "this bitch" and "girl" -- and told Gibson and Sen. Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, that Negron (whom Artiles called "a pussy") had become Senate president because he got votes from "six niggers" in the Republican caucus.

Meanwhile, the Senate has opened up an investigation into Artiles’ comments after the Black Caucus filed a formal complaint over the matter.

On Wednesday, Senate Rules Committee Chair Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, found probable cause to investigate Sen. Frank Artiles for violating the rules of legislative conduct and is appointing special counsel to investigate the matter. Senate General Counsel Dawn Roberts is scheduled to present a report and a recommendation to the committee by April 25.

Artiles is fighting back against Roberts’ representing the Senate, however, and is calling for an independent counsel to represent that chamber since Roberts has represented Artiles and other witnesses in separate matters.

Artiles publicly apologized to both Sens. Gibson and Perry Thurston on Wednesday, who was sitting at the same table as Gibson when Artiles made the remarks. 

The apology came after Senate President Joe Negron issued a statement late Tuesday saying Artiles would try to make amends on the Senate floor Wednesday morning for the derogatory remarks he made about her, including use of a racial slur.

Negron also removed Artiles as Chair of the Senate Committee on Communications, Energy and Public Utilities, replacing him with Sen. Kelli Stargel. 

Artiles' apology was expected, but sources told Sunshine State News that Senate leadership was less than pleased with the freshman senator who has previously made headlines for his hot head. 

Senate Republican leader Wilton Simpson told Politico he was outraged. “What has been reported is completely and totally unacceptable and is not befitting of a member of the Florida Senate. We cannot support this hateful language. It is simply not acceptable.”

Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, in line to become the next Senate president, issued a statement expressing his disgust: "Such comments cannot be repaired by a formal apology, but I trust that it is an appropriate step to be taken by the president and the Florida Senate to handle this matter, and to ensure that this behavior is not tolerated and does not happen again."

Outcry was heard on both sides of the aisle, with Democrats also chiming in to condemn Artiles' remarks.

"The comments, attitude, and behavior toward State Senator Gibson cannot be swept aside because of a simple apology," the Democratic African American Women Caucus said in a statement released Wednesday. "The derogatory comments and condescending language used to attack Senator Gibson must be addressed. Women should not be debased and devalued to assuage fragile male egos."

The Black Caucus held a meeting Wednesday morning slamming the comments and vowing to press forward to make sure the Kendall Republican was held accountable for his words.

"Words matter," said Senate Democratic Minority Leader Oscar Braynon. "So, too, do the consequences. Senator Artiles seems to have a problem with people who don't look like him, who don't think like him, who don't act like him."

Artiles is still in office -- for now. 


This is a developing story. Check back for updates.



Reach reporter Allison Nielsen by email at or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen



Good Lord what a mountain out of a molehill. Is this all these clowns have to do worry about? You want to get rid of the guy then don't vote for him. Give money to the opposition party. Calling someone a "nigger" just does not rise to the level of a capital crime. Black people call each other nigger every day. Who cares? Workers comp is a mess they have created. PIP is a mess they have created. Pot is a mess they have created. And of course, the Everglades. Another mess they have created. I could give a flying doodely damn less if the guy called someone a nigger. I care even less that he called Negron a pussy. You know, if the shoe fits...Stop the nonsense and stop wasting time and do what they are supposed to be doing. We would be better served picking names out of the phone book and sending them to Tallahassee then the pondscum suckers there now.

Political correctness needs to go, while I do not condone the use of certain words namely the "N word" which is degrading especially in the context used by the senator there are other words that are labeled racists,sexist, etc that have become the lexicon of the left. "Oh you're a racist" blah blah blah. The shutting down of conversation based on those terms are a farce and should not be tolerated by society. Those using the term racist simply due to their ignorance or the true meaning of the word, or their attempt at fear-mongering people into submission needs to be shut down by the common sense people in the world. What when a white person is called cracker, honky whitie. Do I care, no actually I think its funny it doesn't bother me one bit and it shouldn't bother any other ethnic group of ethnic slurs either. This have been blown so out of proportion that's its not funny. The current political correctness movement has given a platform for many minorities to intentionally incite racism i.e. reverse discrimination. I have a real problem when anyone is discriminated against for no reason as an example, someone being taunted for "NO REASON" based on their color, social status or whatever. Racist, or my favorite is offensive is not hurling comments in jokes or private conversations. The act of aggression must be intact with the comments for the actions to be racist. Simply telling a woman she is pretty and you would like to get to know her is not sexists its what heterosexual men do to meet women. Some less tactful than others. Society needs to put these terms back in context instead of being fearful of offending anyone. If this was the norm years ago Don Rickles would not have become the the great insulting comedian he had become (RIP) and that's my point. Many were jaw dropping comments, funny as all hell no matter what your ethnicity was. at the end of the day it was all in fun. The whites made fun of the black Asians, Mexicans you name it and they all made fun of the white people, Lets get back to the way things use to be knowing the lessons we've learned in the meantime. Dragging a person behind a pickup truck regardless of their color is unthinkable for any human. Using certain words may be crass and ignorant. However, in today's society the term racist has been taken too far out of context of the real meaning for the ulterior motives of liberal college students and a society that many are boarding on becoming obtuse through indoctrination.

This controversy isn't "political correctness." It is abhorrent and unacceptable language from an elected official. He has to go, one way or the other.

The era of political correctness is over, time for more productive business than worrying about people's feelings being hurt. Time to start acting like adults and dismiss or ignore statements that you don't like, not have major work stoppage and economic turmoil over a friggin' comment. Time for minorities and liberals to stop acting like children.

Governor Scott said, "IF I had an employee I would fire him". Well there's a big difference between an elected official and an 'employee'. The only people that can remove Senator Artiles are the voters. Time to move on, quit crying about name calling.

Bad language and racial comments are not acceptable, however, even legislators are human. Humans are not perfect. Humans do dumb things...If we can have a Governor that took the 5th Amendment 75 times and his company paid VERY LARGE fines.....we should have tolerance for inappropriate language used in a private conversation in a private club by ANYONE!

What, free speech doesn't matter anymore.

No doubt this was stupid, but with two weeks to go before a possible special session and everything grinding to a hault time to step aside. What a wasted session. As for Sen. Negron, I don't know about he being a pussy but he is not much of a leader.

Protected speech, yes... but utterly unbecoming and unacceptable for a senator. No further senate business until Artiles is gone, period.

Frank Artiles MUST be tossed out of the Tallahassee Legislature for EVERY Floridian! It's time for ALL of the embarrassments from Tallahassee's legislature to simply LEAVE, no matter the party, but GO, and never return. We have no room for rabid mongers of hate to be in ANY governmental position!

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