A Florida state senator accused of using racist and vulgar language to demean several of his fellow lawmakers at a private Tallahassee bar officially resigned on Friday.
Calling the fallout from his April 17 rant a “a distraction to my colleagues,” Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, stepped down from his seat after apologizing earlier this week to Democratic Sen. Audrey Gibson for calling her a “bitch” and a “girl” at a private club. Artiles also allegedly called fellow Republican and Senate President Joe Negron a “pussy” who was elected to his leadership position with the help of “six niggers.” He later attempted to clarify that he intended to use the word “niggas” in an apparently non-derogatory fashion.
“I am responsible and I am accountable and effective immediately, I am resigning from the Florida State Senate,” Artiles wrote in his letter of resignation. “It’s clear there are consequences to every action, and in this area, I will need time for personal reflection and growth.”
Members of the Florida Senate’s black caucus called for Artile to be removed from office over the remarks, and filed a complaint with the state Senate’s Rules Committee calling for his expulsion.
Artiles initially resisted calls for his ouster, going so far as to ask to depose members of the caucus.
“There were several comments in the black caucus that were inaccurate, incorrect and not corroborated by me,” Artiles was quoted as saying. “Several comments made in the black caucus put me in a bad light because that’s not what was said.”
Speaking with reporters on Wednesday evening, Artiles struck a similarly defiant tone, saying if senators stepped down over every mistake they made, “we’d have half the Senate gone for whatever reason.”
Nevertheless, as pressure mounted, Artiles evidently saw the writing on the wall—a decision that at least one former colleague applauded.
“Frank has acted honorably in his decision,” Rep. Jose Oliva (R-110) told the Miami Herald. “My prayers are with him as he moves on from this process.”