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Artiles Apologizes on Senate Floor for Profanity-Laced Rant and Racial Slur Aimed at Black Lawmaker

April 19, 2017 - 10:15am

UPDATE 4:25 P.M.: Senate Rules Committee Chair Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, has 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 will present a report and a recommendation to the committee by April 25.

View the full memo and complaint below.

The Florida Senate is appointing a special Sen. Frank Artiles took to the Senate floor Wednesday morning and formally apologized to a fellow senator for derogatory remarks, including a racial slur, that he made towards her earlier this week.   

"I extend a heartfelt apology to my colleagues and all of those I have offended," Artiles said. 

Artiles' voice cracked slightly as he addressed his colleagues, many of whom have called for him to resign altogether. 

The apology 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.

"My harsh words have adversely reflected more on me than they ever could have on anyone else.," Artiles said. 

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

The apology comes 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."

Braynon said Artiles' actions were inexcusable and urged the Senate to act. 

"Simply dismissing these charges Senator Artiles has admitted to as a passing lapse, or his temper getting the better of him, or a product of his childhood town, doesn't cut it."

The possibility still exists, however, that Democrats will file an official complaint against Artiles alleging he violated the formal rules of conduct in the Senate. According to the Herald, such a complaint could ultimately result in an ethics investigation by Senate Rules Chair Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers. 

Later Wednesday afternoon, the Legislative Black Caucus held a press conference and called for Artiles' expulsion from the Senate.

Sen. Thurston said he filed a formal complaint to for Senate action to remove Artiles from his position as a state lawmaker. 

Other legislators like Rep. Kamia Brown, D-Ocoee, said Artiles was known to be a "bully" in the legislative process. 

"As a woman, as a fellow colleague and as an African-American, I have to stand up today and speak out on this issue," said Brown. "As a woman in the process, it's hard enough to have to deal with the various issues and decisions I make these 60 days, but for me to have to deal with and tolerate somebody calling me [other than] the name my parents named me, that's a problem."

This is a breaking story. Check back for updates.





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


Yes, he showed his hand, so are the others republicans going to do better and work for the people and not just for others. Just look at their meetings and how they talk at and sometimes refer to the Democratic Party as the ones in the BACK and notice when the one in the back ask a question how they are answered not as equals but how dare you question or oppose US, total disrespect . We all pay taxes so you guys should be working together for The People Of FLORIDA,

Yes, he showed his hand, so are the others republicans going to do better and work for the people and not just for others. Just look at their meetings and how they talk at and sometimes refer to the Democratic Party as the ones in the BACK and notice when the one in the back ask a question how they are answered as equals but how dare you question or oppose US, total disrespect . We all pay taxes so you guys should be working together for The People Of FLORIDA,

Until he is surrounded by people who call him a Fat, ugly, dickless, Spick (daily) and they call his mother a whore and him dishonorablly discharged bastard child of a crack head father child rapist, and every other negative term possible, he will never get it.

Too little to late... This man is a disgrace.

Everyone loses his temper now & then. An apology should be sufficient to move along. The voters will have their say next election. Leave well enough alone.

He should be "toast": He has no "filter" and is unfit for "public display"; He's the perfect example of an elected, uncontrollable "power grabber" with no conscience,... allowed to continue with his "bar assaults", and we would soon see him "in cuffs" awaiting indictment for some crime or other (or in a hospital "emergency room" getting his broken nose reset)...

He needs to go. His apology means nothing because he has already shown what kind of person he is, he is just doing this because he had to.

This is inexcusable he needs to be removed. I sent this article to every OCR office in the US.

Goes to show that drinking never did anybody any good.

This Artiles trash is trash. He may be passing, but even as Spanish man with Negro blood he should not be using racist dlurs. (He should follow the example of Aaron Hernandez.)

Doesn't surprise me. When I met him as an insurance adjuster, he called me, "Mamita".

I do not agree with his remarks at all. He is clearly a racist. . . . .BUT. . .He was elected by the "People". . . .and it is up to the "People" to remove him. The Senate should leave him alone.

Don't be absurd. This man should resign immediately or be removed IMMEDIATELY. "The people" don't have the power to remove him. The legislature must take this action. Surly his district has black citizens, who deserve and are entitled to fair representation. He clearly cannot represent blacks fairly.

who cares....just ALL of You in Tallahassee ...DO YOUR JOB....Pass Reasonable Bills...

After a few drinks, This is just typical of your self-centered and arrogant Republicans who don't care about the poor or working class folks, especially if your black or Hispanic (ie see "rejecting Medicaid health care for a million poor Floridians and wasting billions of tax dollars that could be used to help every Floridian and American but will be directed at a wall against Mexicans... doesn't work! See Great Wall of China and Berlin Wall!!!

Seriously? He is Hispanic but he doesnt care about Hispanics? You are weird in your thought process.

Just where do you get your information? The Great Wall of China most certainly DID keep people iut of China. And tne Berlin wall was designef to keep people IN not iut. Your ignorance astounds me.

He apologized but he NEVER should have said what he least not in public. :)

Yes he definitely has issues, but he's not nearly as racist as most African-Americans who vomit out their hate, and nationally, but are still backed by the various Black Caucuses around the country. There are far too many to name but the drift is plainly researchable. Well, for those having an ounce of education and motivation to do so. I wouldn't want him representing me, period. Arrogant and a big mouth, just like Sharpton or Biden, or complete racist and white person hater Farrakhan (received lifetime achievement award from Obama's pastor), and Farrakhan even says white people should be killed (the blue-eyed devil), but you NEVER hear the Black Caucuses condemning Farrakhan. Hypocrites. And Biden, the Democrat Party hero of even African-Americans, who always swam butt naked around his assigned female Secret Service agent, but not a complaint from any Women's Rights coalitions. Hypocrites. Actually exposing & perversely subjugating his private parts upon his female agent wasn't as nasty as saying some of the things Trump merely said. And the recording shows that even if Trump grabbed the married women's private parts, none of them have accused him of anything as schemed by Hillary & Company. Yeah right. Hypocrites. And even a former CIA officer has confirmed that the Clintons hated Blacks when Billy was attorney general & then governor in Arkansas. She even hated all her citizens there, but especially the ones who looked like they were in the movie Deliverance, per memoirs about the Clintons. The Clintons went to a party painted up with their faces completely black, mocking African-Americans, but that was okay, apparently. Bet Artiles could have shown up at session on the Senate floor with his face painted like Hillbilly did, and received applause from the Black Caucus. Hypocrites.

Oh, it's okay to thing this way as long as you don't show it in public? You sound like a racist!

What he says in private is none of your business.

Tell that to the college kid he punched in the face in a bar... (One day, the cowardly Artiles is going to pick on the wrong person.. one who knows how to deal with loudmouthed bullies...

The Senator bullied his way into everything, and this proves his religious views are fake and his holier than thou attitude is baseless.

This is proof enough that no matter which lipstick you smudge onto a pig, the pig remains nothing more than a pig!

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