Florida Republican Sen. Frank Artiles has been stripped of his chairmanship of the Senate Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee after spewing racial slurs at fellow lawmakers.
Over drinks with colleagues Monday night at the Governor’s Club in downtown Tallahassee, Artiles complained about the chamber’s GOP leadership while calling six white senators “n—ers”, according to the Miami Herald. He also fired obscenities during a conversation with Democratic Sens. Audrey Gibson and Perry Thurston, both of whom are black, by calling Senate President Joe Negron a “pussy” who was elected because of six “n—ers” and referring to Gibson as a “bitch,” the Herald reported.
State Senate President Joe Negron issued a statement late Tuesday night saying he “was appalled to hear that one Senator would speak to another in such an offensive and reprehensible manner.” He also stated that “racial slurs and profane, sexist insults have no place in conversation between Senators and will not be tolerated while I am serving as Senate President.”
Artiles, just elected in November, apologized in a statement Tuesday amid calls for his resignation by the Florida Democratic Party.
“In an exchange with a colleague of mine in the Senate, I unfortunately let my temper get the best of me,” Artiles said. “There is no excuse for the exchange that occurred, and I have apologized to my Senate colleagues and regret the incident profusely.”
He apologized again Wednesday morning, this time on the Senate floor. “I extend a heartfelt apology to my colleagues and to all those I have offended,” he said.
Artiles’ bills are now being halted because of the incident, even after his apologies.
The Florida Legislative Black Caucus was to hold an emergency meeting Wednesday at noon, during which they were expected to discuss Artiles’ resignation, as reported by the Miami Herald.
After his apology, when asked by reporters if he was going to resign, Artiles replied “absolutely not,” and said he planned to seek a new term in 2018.
This isn’t the first time Artiles has faced criticism because of hateful slurs. In 2014, when he was a state representative, Artiles was secretly recorded at a polling place using an anti-Muslim slur, as reported by the Miami Herald.