As the sordid story of Sen. Frank Artiles’ Monday night rant, replete with racist and sexist phrases, continues to develop, Florida Senate President Joe Negron issued a punitive action Wednesday morning.
Negron removed Artiles from his chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Communications, Energy, and Public Utilities.
Kelli Stargel will replace Artiles.
Negron took his time on Tuesday formulating a statement, releasing something after 9:30 p.m.
“(Senate Minority Leader Oscar) Braynon reported this incident to me earlier today, and I was appalled to hear that one Senator would speak to another in such an offensive and reprehensible manner. My first priority was to ensure that this matter was promptly addressed between the two Senators involved, which occurred this evening. 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. Senator Artiles has requested a point of personal privilege at the beginning of tomorrow’s sitting, during which he intends to formally apologize to Senator Gibson on the Senate Floor.”
Artiles, of course, did apologize to Gibson and others on Wednesday, as Negron indicated.
Artiles extended a “heartfelt apology” to the body, signaling out Gibson.
“There’s no excuse, nor will I offer one … no one deserves to be spoken to that way, much less a person of your stature, dignity, and integrity.”
To Sen. Thurston, Artiles lauded his “friendship” as a “man of principle.”
And Sen. Negron got an apology also, for Artiles’ “crass and juvenile comments.”
“With regard to the word which I used to no one in particular,” Artiles noted that he grew up in a “diverse community” with what apparently was a robust “vernacular.”
No opportunity was immediately ceded for Gibson, Thurston, or Negron to respond to those comments, as the Senate moved immediately into the consideration of bills.
Negron’s response was measured, given that he himself was a reported target of Artiles’ vitriol.
The Miami Herald reported Artiles’ assertion that Negron “had been risen to his powerful GOP leadership role because ‘six niggers’ in the Republican caucus had elected him.”
Pressure is coming, especially from Democrats, for Artiles to resign.
Thus far, the GOP appears willing to weather the storm.