Florida senator pressured to resign over racial slurs

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By:Erin Lisch
April 20, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - -The push is continuing for Senator Frank Artiles to step down after saying racially charged comments aimed at a fellow lawmaker.

Local pastors and leaders calling for his resignation on Thursday.

Pastor of Bethel Missionary Baptist Church Reverend RB Holmes said, "We not going to allow anyone to insult a senator or female with those kind of languages, and not in a public square. We’re not going to stand for it."

Religious leaders to local lawmakers, speaking against racist and demeaning comments made to a fellow senator by Frank Artiles.

Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor said, "I don't think anyone should be handled like that by a colleague."

Residents in Tallahassee aware of the remarks tell us they expect better from their elected officials.

Tallahassee resident Juanita Legree said, "A grown professional person who has been elected has a higher expectation of appropriate behavior."

Tallahassee resident Agnes Furey said, "You cannot afford to be doing things that are not representative of what you're trying to get other people to do."

Senator Audrey Gibson, the target of the comments, agrees, "Regardless of where we are, we are always senators."

Records show that lawmakers have not expelled a senator dating back to the 1880’s, some think now that needs to change.

"I think he should be without any further due, I think he should be dismissed," said Legree.

Sen. Gibson doubts she'll be comfortable with Sen. Artiles still in office.

"It's a form of being violated as far as I'm concerned," said Sen. Gibson.

Artiles did apologize on the senate floor for his remarks on Wednesday.

The senate is reviewing these remarks.

Artiles' attorney is asking the senate and the Special Master for this case to recuse themselves.

The attorney claims the first amendment protects Artiles' remarks.

Pastors are now planning a sit in outside of Artiles’ office at the Capitol on April 25th at noon.

By: Mike Vasilinda | Capitol News Service
April 20, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Calls for a state senator who used racial slurs to step down are increasing. A formal complaint seeking the expulsion of Senator Frank Artiles has been found to have probable cause, and with just over two weeks left in the legislative session, the issue could come to a head next week.

Sen. Frank Artiles was nowhere to be found at the Capitol the day after apologizing for improper and racist statements.

“I realize that my position does not allow me for the looseness of words, or slang,” Artiles said Wednesday.

The complaint alleging racist comments and seeking his expulsion from the legislature is already being investigated by a Special Master. Rules Chairman Lizbeth Benacquisto will get a report on Tuesday.

“And we’re giving the respect the complaint deserves, and certainly protecting everyone’s rights within that process, we believe,” Sen Benacquisto said.

Artiles confronted Sen. Audrey Gibson at at private club Monday night and berated her for opposing his legislation. By Thursday, she just wanted to get back to work.

“Well, I’m very focused. that’s why the people sent me here. You know how I work. I take my analysis home at night. i read them and that’s been my focus,” Sen. Gibson said.

Records dating back to the 1880’s show no senator has ever been expelled.

Representative Bert Riddle was the last person expelled from the legislature. He sent an obscene note to a page. Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon believes Artiles' conduct is just as bad.

“I think this of that level. i mean, referring to college, a female college as the B word is reprehensible. Using racial slurs I think is also reprehensible,” Sen. Braynon said.

If lawmakers choose not to expel Artiles, he could be reprimanded or censured, which could include the loss of all of his committee assignments.

The National Organization for Women today called for Artiles to resign or be removed from office. So did Baptist ministers in both Tallahassee and Miami.

By: Mike Vasilinda | Capitol News Service
April 19, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- A freshman State Senator is apologizing for making what some are calling racist remarks to a black State Senator. The apology was found wanting by the Black Caucus, which is calling for his removal.

The remarks were made Monday in the private, members only Governor’s Club, a block from the Capitol. Senator Frank Artilles was unhappy with questions asked earlier by Senator Audrey Gibson.

Sen. Perry Thurston was there as well.

Sen. Thurston said, “Calling her a $#%% as well as referring to the Senate President as a %$#@ and also calling the people who elected him as the six %$@#.”

At the urging of the Senate President, Artiles apologized personally to Gibson, then publicly on the Senate Floor.

Sen. Artiles said, "To Senator Audrey Gibson. I apologize. For the words and the tone I used with you, regretfully, Monday night.”

Gibson kept her back to Artilles as he spoke.

“Originally, your are shocked, and then you feel a sick, sick place in your stomach,” said Sen. Gibson

The Senate President promptly stripped Artiles of his Energy Committee Chairmanship.

“The future of Senator Artiles to me, rests between him and his constituents,” said Senate President Joe Negron.

But while the Senate President was done, the Black Caucus voted to file a formal complaint seeking Artiles' expulsion from the Senate.

Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon said, "I don’t believe an apology will heal the wounds. I don’t believe an apology will correct what has happened.”

Artiles says he will not resign.

“Absolutely not. Not only will I not resign, I’m going to file for 2018 and win my election," Sen Artiles said.

Now the Senate must decide if remarks made in a bar are grounds for removal.

Not since 1961 has a lawmaker been expelled.

Under Senate Rules, once a complaint is filed, the Rules Committee must investigate and make a recommendation to the full Senate.

Democrats are asking for a resolution before the legislative session ends in May.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) -- A Florida state senator is expected to apologize publicly for using racial slurs and insults in a private after-hours conversation with African-American colleagues.

Senate President Joe Negron said that Miami-area Republican Sen. Frank Artiles has asked to formally apologize Wednesday on the Senate floor to Sen. Audrey Gibson.

News outlets report that Artiles used a variation of the "n-word" in the conversation at Tallahassee's Governor's Club with Democratic Sens. Audrey Gibson of Jacksonville and Perry Thurston of Fort Lauderdale. They said Artiles also used obscene and belittling language directed at them in the Monday night conversation.

While Artiles apologized on Tuesday, some Democrats began demanding his resignation once news about the incident began to emerge.

In his own statement Negron said he was "appalled" about the comment.

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