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Politics

Frank Artiles Officially Resigns from Florida Senate

April 21, 2017 - 10:45am

Embattled Sen. Frank Artiles, R-Kendall, announced his formal resignation from the Florida Senate Friday afternoon after verbally attacking a fellow senator with profane comments and a racial slur earlier this week.

“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 in his resignation letter to Senate President Joe Negron Friday morning. "I am responsible and I am accountable and effective immediately, I am resigning from the Florida Senate. It's clear there are consequences to every action, and in this area, I will need time for personal reflection and growth."

Artiles addressed his constituents and those close to him, apologizing for his actions.

"I apologize to my family and friends and I apologize to all my fellow Senators and lawmakers,” Artiles said. “To the people of my district of all of Miami-Dade, I am sorry I have let you down and ask for your forgiveness."

See Artiles' formal resignation letter below.

Negron accepted the resignation, saying it was the correct move.

“Senator Artiles made the right decision," the Stuart Republican said in a statement. "As Senator Artiles has noted, he holds himself responsible and accountable for his actions and comments."

Sen. Audrey Gibson, the object of Artiles' outburst, issued a short statement on his resignation. "I would like to thank everyone for their outpouring of support," she wrote. "This has been an ordeal that no one should have to endure. I wish him well in all of his endeavors."

The news comes three days after Artiles came under fire for verbally attacking Gibson, D-Jacksonville, using the "n-word" and other vulgarities at the Governor's Club in Tallahassee Monday evening. 

Stepping down is a sigh of relief for Republicans, who have entered into crisis mode since the story broke, rocking Tallahassee from the moment it went public. 

Artiles' resignation "would be good for all involved,” a political consultant close to the players involved told Sunshine State News Friday morning.

Other GOP consultants said they found it astonishing Artiles had managed to anger both sides of the aisle, from Democrats to Republicans, who all called for Artiles' head.

"How the hell do these guys get elected?" asked one. "I refuse to believe we're just that good."

Sources described mass chaos in the Florida Capitol as Republicans tried to manage the situation as it unfolded.

According to the Miami Herald, Artiles was heard to use the word "niggers," at the exclusive Governor's Club, 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 black caucus chairman 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.

On Wednesday morning, Artiles addressed the full Senate, confirming the Herald's story. He publicly apologized to both Sens. Gibson and  Thurston, who had been sitting at the same table as Gibson when Artiles made the remarks at the Governor's Club.

Thurston said he "welcomed the news" of Artiles' resignation. 

"We regret that this action was necessary, but we believe it was the right action to take," Thurston said in a statement Friday. "It was surely a difficult decision for the Senator to make, but we believe he followed his conscience and made the right choice. 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.”

The Senate had previously 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 said he would fight back against against Roberts representing the Senate, however, and called for an independent counsel to represent that chamber because Roberts has represented Artiles and other witnesses in separate matters.

As the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported Thursday, Artiles' lawyer Steven Andrews "wrote to the Senate lawyer reviewing the case and said the complaint shouldn’t be pursued because Artiles’ statements -- as offensive as they were -- are protected under his constitutional rights to free speech." 

The complaint was later closed after Artiles resigned.

Criticisms condeming Artiles' comments poured in from both sides of the aisle.

Attorney General Pam Bondi and Gov. Rick Scott said Artiles needed to step down or be fired from the Senate over the rant. 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.

It wasn’t long before the governor added his opinion, 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.

Negron later told reporters he was "completely satisfied" with how he handled the fallout.

Said Thurston on Friday, "On behalf of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus, I welcome the news of Senator Frank Artiles’ resignation today from the Florida Senate. 

"We regret that this action was necessary, but we believe it was the right action to take. It was surely a difficult decision for the senator to make, but we believe he followed his conscience and made the right choice. 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.”

House Speaker Richard Corcoran, responding on the matter, called Artiles a "friend" and an "incredible legislator."

"He will always do what's best for the people of Florida," Corcoran said in a statement. "I sincerely hope that as Frank seeks forgiveness and absolution from those hurt by his words, he will be met with forgiveness and a second chance."

Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, chair of the Senate Committee on Rules, brought investigation of the matter to a close. “Given Senator Artiles’ decision to resign and Senator Thurston’s decision to withdraw the related complaint, no further action on the part of the Rules Committee is warranted in connection with this matter. I believe Senator Artiles made the right decision for himself and his family, his constituents, and the Florida Senate. I join my Senate colleagues in wishing Frank and his family all the best.”

 

 

Reach reporter Allison Nielsen by email at allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter: @AllisonNielsen

 

Comments

Ok- they hypocrisy is astonishing. Let me start by saying. Sen Artiles, needed to resign, should have resigned and should never seek any office again. But perhaps Sen Gibson should follow. She is routinely and unabashedly verbally abusive to "everyone." She's been called the b-word so many times, seriously-- it's a norm around Tallahassee. Everybody hates Audrey. As for Sen Braynon, are you serious? The man has mistresses working as lobbyist, sex parties, free "white girl," and uses the N-word more than a rapper. This is WELL KNOWN. Sen. Thurston, once referred to the entire caucus of house democrats as "house niggas." Now the word is off limits? Is it just off limits to Republicans, whites or Hispanics? I'm just asking for a friend. From "Top Flight, Level 8, to the Black Gala," the self-righteous Black Caucus is filled with strippers, cash, booze, the n-word, and side-chicks. If everyone who behaved abhorrently had to resign, you may only have Negron and his nigs left in the Senate. Let's stop pretending this is anything other than a free seat for the "Jewish hating" Dwight Bullard. Don't get me wrong, Dwight is a nice man, but he was in Palestine supporting the Palestinians virtually giving the bigot Artiles a free seat. Dems, don't over-play your hand. Girls like "Maria and Annie are still around, and they've got abortion records and stories to tell." [drops Mic]

Lets hear more from the Truthsayer! What great sport that would be!

NOW,...........if we could only get everyone to abolish the use of this word, then I would say,.......we are starting to see the "Light-of-equality". Unfortunately there are Far too many that wish to continue the Hypocrisy, by saying "we can use the word", but No-One else can. Equality needs a place of Origin, if we are to view each other equally, so let it begin where the Hypocrisy LIES. Leading by Example, instead of selective Racism, will continue to keep people apart,......and maybe that is what some people want. After-all how can you use Racism as a Guilt- WEAPON, if we all begin treating the problem with the same ferocity, and obligation as Humans??

If Artiles never "got it"...till NOW: Then we're ALL better off without him. ("Thoughtlessness" is the "mother" of arrogance ! )

Reading this article we see that the writer uses the "N" word.... Shame on you and you need to resign.

Artiles' actions this week were offensive and resigning was truly his only choice. My father use to refer to guys like him as "rednecks in business suits." (His definition of "redneck" was someone who is ignorant and proud of it.). That said...when we were growing up in Stuart FL, we knew a priest in St Joseph's parish who used to tell us, "thinking it is as bad as doing it." I wonder how many others in the state legislature are thinking what others would deem inappropriate to say publicly. In fact, they are only human. In those circumstances personal judgment plays a huge role, and when we fail to apply it appropriately, we run the risk of both offending and hurting those around us. And yet, we see evidence of this error in judgment everyday. As a good friend reminded me once, "words matter."

People should hear the ugly stuff and threatening stuff said privately. Like a current Senator from Tampa calling Jewish Senator a kike. Charming.

Name them!

Report them!

At least Artiles is honest and has spirit even though what he said was wrong... behind closed doors one can bet the same smack is being thrown around..

"Crisis "? "Rocked Tallahassee "? Me thinks you embellish just a tad, Allison. Yes, he made some very, very ugly remarks, but I don't think the repercussions were that drastic. However I am glad he resigned.

Stepford Legislators. It is amazing how many people claim to be tolerant and forgiving, yet show little tolerance and never forget. This guy, though not a great example of humanity, was forced out by a mob.

Now, if he switches party, he could stroll into the Governor's mansion.

Comments are now closed.

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