State Sen. Frank Artiles resigns amid fallout from racial slur

State senator from South Florida under fire for comments to colleagues

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This 2012, file photo shows Republican state senator Frank Artiles, R-Miami, during house session in Tallahassee, Fla. Artiles publicly apologized Wednesday April 19, 2017, for using racial slurs and obscene insults.

PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. - A state senator from South Florida resigned Friday in the fallout from using a racial slur among colleagues.

State Sen. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, sent a resignation letter to Senate President Joe Negron.

"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 wrote. "I am responsible and I am accountable and, effective immediately, I am resigning from the Florida Senate. It is clear there are consequences to every action and in this area, I will need time for personal reflection and growth."

Negron said Wednesday that Artiles was removed as chair of the Committee on Communications, Energy and Public Utilities after he used a variation of the "n-word" during a Monday night conversation with Sen. Audrey Gibson, D-Jacksonville, and Sen. Perry Thurston, D-Fort Lauderdale, at the Governors Club in Tallahassee, not far from the state Capitol.

Thurston, who filed a formal complaint Wednesday, wrote that Artiles' "egregious comments" were a violation of Senate rules and justify his expulsion. The letter was addressed to Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, who serves as chair of the Senate Rules Committee.

Artiles apologized Wednesday morning on the Senate floor.

Negron released a statement Friday.

“Senator Artiles made the right decision. As Senator Artiles has noted, he holds himself responsible and accountable for his actions and comments.

“Despite the events of the last week, Senator Artiles has a long and proud record of public service. We all owe him a debt of gratitude for serving our country in the United State Marine Corps, where he fought for our freedom in the Global War on Terror. Additionally, his years of service in the Florida House and Senate demonstrate a commitment to helping others that will not end with his departure from the Senate. My Senate colleagues and I wish Senator Artiles and his family well.

“Senator Thurston has informed me that he is withdrawing his Rule 1.43 Complaint. Accordingly, I have directed the Special Master to close her investigation. No further action by the Senate will be taken in regard to this matter.”
 

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