A Florida state senator has resigned after making racist comments directed towards a colleague.
The Miami Herald reported on Tuesday that Artiles used the n-word in a conversation with African-American colleagues. He also reportedly called one of them a “f—ing a–hole,” and “b—-.” In a conversation at the Governors Club, Artiles reportedly said that Senate President Joe Negron had risen to power because of “six n—–” in the Republican caucus.
So who is Frank Artiles, the Florida state senator who resigned amid controversy this week? Here’s what you need to know.
1. He Was Elected to the Florida Senate in 2016
Frank Artiles was elected to the Florida Senate in November 2016. Artiles defeated incumbent Democratic Senator Dwight Bullard.
During the election, Artiles told voters that Bullard voted in favor of releasing criminals from jail and keeping sexual offenders on the streets. This was in reference to a bill that dealt with whether sexual offenders could be held without bond before they appeared in front of a judge, according to The Miami Herald. Artiles and Bullard both ended up supporting a version of this proposal.
Artiles also attacked Bullard during the election for going on a tour of Israel with Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, a pro-Palestine organization; Artiles and other Republicans accused Bullard of being anti-Semitic.
Ultimately, Artiles defeated Bullard with 51 percent of the vote compared to Bullard’s 41 percent.
2. One of His Campaign Ads Said That Black Lives Matter is a Terrorist Organization
During the 2016 election, Frank Artiles said that Black Lives Matter is a terrorist organization.
This came in a mailer ad in which Artiles attacked his Democratic opponent Dwight Bullard for supporting Black Lives Matter. According to the New York Daily News, Artiles’ ad said, in reference to Black Lives Matter, “When Dwight Bullard met with a terrorist organization…he made us all less safe.”
The ad also featured a picture of Artiles wearing a hoodie in solidarity with Trayvon Martin.
This ad was paid for by the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee but was sponsored by Frank Artiles.
3. He Introduced a Bill Making it a Crime for Transgender People to Use Bathrooms That Correspond With Their Gender Identity
In 2015, while Artiles was serving in the Florida House of Representatives, he introduced a bill that would make it a crime for transgender people to use a bathroom corresponding with a gender that is not listed on their birth certificate.
Artiles told BuzzFeed News that he was not concerned about this creating problems for transgender people, saying that they choose to go to the bathroom.
“People are not forced to go the restroom,” he told BuzzFeed. “They choose to go to the restroom…While I understand there are transgender people who want to use bathrooms however they want to feel, that is irrelevant to me.”
Artiles went on to say that gender identity is “subjective” and that the gender listed on a person’s birth certificate is the only factor that should be taken into consideration. He also said that the bill was a matter of public safety.
“You have sexual predators — you have people who are going to use these local ordinances as cover,” Artiles said. “I want uniformity across the board, and not laws subjective to the way people feel.”
Under this bill, transgender people who violated the bathroom law would be punished with up to a year in jail.
4. He Was Once Accused of Punching a College Student in the Face
In March 2015, a college student accused Frank Artiles of punching him in the face.
According to the Miami Herald, Peter Alberti alleged that Frank Artiles had punched him at a Tallahassee bar which is near the Florida capitol.
“He was trying to get by, up at the bar, to get drinks,” Alberti told the Miami Herald. “He punched me in the face.”
Alberti vehemently denied the accusation, telling the Miami Herald it was a set up. He also told the Miami Herald that if he had punched Alberti, Alberti would be seriously injured.
“If I had hit somebody, they’d be in the hospital,” he said.
5. He Announced His Resignation on Friday
Frank Artiles apologized for the racist remarks after they were reported.
“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, according to the Miami Herald. “There is no excuse for the exchange that occurred and I have apologized to my Senate colleagues and regret the incident profusely.”
Artiles later said, however, that he had actually said “niggas” during the conversation and that it was not meant to be insulting.
The Florida Democratic Party called on Frank Artiles to resign, and Audrey Gibson, to whom Artiles directed his comments, has said that she was appalled. Senate President Joe Negron also denounced the comments.
“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,” Negron said, according to the Miami Herald.
On Friday, Artiles announced his resignation.
“It is clear to me my recent actions and words that I spoke fell far short of what I expect for myself, and for this I am very sorry,” he said in his resignation letter obtained by NBC News. “I apologize to my family and friends and I apologize to all of my fellow Senators and lawmakers. To the people of my district and all of Miami-Dade, I am sorry I have let you down and ask for your forgiveness.”
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