Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon says fellow Sen. Frank Artiles‘ apology for using racial epithets and obscene insults is “not enough” and “the Senate must be compelled to act.”
Braynon, who is black, issued a statement Wednesday after news that Artiles, a Cuban-American Republican, hurled insults at African-American Democratic Sens. Perry Thurston and Audrey Gibson at the private Governors Club on Monday night.
Among other things, Artiles used a variation of the “n-word.”
“Senator Artiles appears to have an issue with people who don’t look like him, who don’t think like him, and who don’t act like him,” Braynon said. “Worse, this isn’t just one isolated incident; rather, it’s an extremely troubling pattern that continues to escalate.”
In 2015, Artiles—who served in the Marine Corps—was accused of punching a college student after hours at a bar near the Capitol. He denied striking the student.
Earlier Wednesday, Artiles delivered a “heartfelt apology” to the body, signaling out Gibson, whom he called a “b—h” and a “girl.”
“There’s no excuse, nor will I offer one,” he said. “No one deserves to be spoken to that way, much less a person of your stature, dignity, and integrity.” Gibson declined to speak to a reporter after the floor session.
“With regard to the word which I used to no one in particular,” Artiles said he grew up in a “diverse community.”
Braynon, also of Miami-Dade County, wasn’t buying it.
“The slurs he slings so easily fly in the face of every oath he’s taken, and every creed he’s sworn to uphold,” he said. “As a sitting state Senator, his conduct has transgressed the honor, professional conduct, and representation of the membership he holds and the responsibilities he’s obligated to discharge.
“The question now becomes whether the Senate views these violations with the gravity they deserve.
“Simply dismissing these charges Senator Artiles has admitted to as a passing lapse, or his temper getting the better of him, or a product of his childhood town, doesn’t cut it,” Braynon added.
“At some point, it’s time to take a stand, to say that words are not enough. At some point, the Senate must be compelled to act.”