The Miami Herald reports that Republican State Sen. Frank Artiles apologized for allegedly referring to his female colleague, Democratic State Sen. Audrey Gibson, as a “b—”. He also referred to Republican Senate President Joe Negron as a “p—” and said that he was elected to his post by six “n—s” in the Republican caucus.
“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, reported by the Herald. “There is no excuse for the exchange that occurred and I have apologized to my Senate colleagues and regret the incident profusely.”
Artiles did not immediately respond to Motto’s request for comment.
Gibson said that Artiles approached her at the Governor’s Club on Monday night and suggested “that a series of questions he’d asked of one of her bills earlier in the day were payback for questions she’d asked before of one of Artiles’ bills,” according to the Herald. During the course of that conversation, Gibson said that Artiles referred to her as a “f— a—le” and a “b—”.
Gibson then complained about the exchange to Democratic State Sen. Perry Thurston, who was at a table nearby. Thurston said that Artiles told him he did not refer to Artiles as a “f— a—” and “b—“ but still apologized at Thurston’s suggestion.
Later in the conversation with Thurston and Gibson — who are both black — Artiles then allegedly used the n-word. “I said, ‘Dude, did you say ‘niggers?’” the Herald reports Thurston said. “‘No, I said ‘niggas,’ which is different in his mind,” Thurston finished.
The Florida Democratic Party called on Artiles to resign on Tuesday night and the Black Caucus scheduled an emergency meeting for Wednesday. Negron said in a statement that Artiles will need to apologize to Gibson on the Senate floor on Wednesday. “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.
But — before Artiles issued his statement, — Gibson had said that an apology from her colleague would be meaningless. “I can’t remember a time in my life when anybody called me either one of those things,” she told the Herald. “It’s just the most disrespect I’ve ever encountered.”