A Florida state senator used racial slurs and insults in a private after-hours conversation with African-American colleagues, reports the Miami Herald.
While having late night drinks at the members-only Governors Club just steps from the state Capitol, Miami Republican Sen. Frank Artiles told Sens. Audrey Gibson of Jacksonville and Perry Thurston of Fort Lauderdale that Senate President Joe Negron of Stuart had risen to his powerful GOP leadership role because “six niggers” in the Republican caucus had elected him.
Gibson said she left the conversation, at which point Thurston confronted Artiles.
“I said, ‘Dude, did you say ‘n*ggers?’” Thurston told the Herald. “‘No, I said ‘niggas,’” which is different in his mind.”
Thurston urged Artiles to apologize, even offering to accompany him to Gibson’s office the next morning. Artiles didn’t show up.
“In an exchange with a colleague of mine in the Senate, I, unfortunately, let my temper get the best of me,” Artiles said in a statement. “There is no excuse for the exchange that occurred and I have apologized to my Senate colleagues and regret the incident profusely.”
Artiles, a Cuban-American, is a former state House member who was elected to the Senate in November.
Back in 2015, the then Florida State Rep. introduced a bill that would prevent transgender people from using the restroom that matches their gender.
According to HB 538, a trans person that did not use a bathroom matching their birth certificate would commit a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable by up to a year in jail or a $1,000 fine.
The bill would “secure privacy and safety for all individuals.”
The Miami Herald reported last month that the senator had been paid nearly $2,000 in flights, food and beverage by Florida Power & Light before rapidly advancing pro-FPL bills in his committee. FPL paid for his trips to Daytona Beach and Disney’s Epcot theme park in February.
Artiles’ travel “was an in-kind contribution to Veterans for Conservative Principles by Florida Power & Light,” said his aide, Alina Garcia in an email after the Herald/Times asked how the expenses were paid.
Artiles traveled on a plane owned by Dave Ramba, who also lobbies for FPL. Ramba uses his aircraft to provide legislators with air travel around the state and to and from Tallahassee. It is known as “the caravan” because it is a Cessna Caravan and can seat up to 8 people.
According to a public-records request filed by an amateur First Amendment advocate, Artiles has blocked roughly 400 people on Facebook, reports The Miami New Times.
— Angela Greben (@AngelaGreben) March 10, 2017