Four days after he publicly berated Sen. Audrey Gibson of Jacksonville, Frank Artiles resigned from the Florida Senate.
In a letter dated Friday and sent to Senate President Joe Negron, Artiles said, “my actions and my presence in government is now a distraction to mycolleagues, the legislative process, the citizens of our great State.
“I am responsible and I am accountable and effectively immediately I am resigning from the Florida State Senate.”
In separate statement, Articles said, “While I take full responsibility for using language that was vulgar and inappropriate, my family has fallen victim to apolitical process that can distort the truth for the sole purpose of political gain.”
The decision comes amid harsh criticism of the Republican from Miami who verbally abused Gibson late Monday night in the lounge of the privateGovernors Club near the Capitol. He lambasted her for her questions about bills he sponsored and her committee votes against them.
Gibson could not be reached immediately for comment.
In a statement, Negron said, “Senator Artiles made the right decision.”
Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens, released a statement saying, “I applaud and welcome Senator Artiles’ decision to resigntoday. It was not only the right decision, but the honorable one, for himself and the people of Florida.
Braynon said, “I take no pleasure in these unfortunate events. But I urge that we learn from them. In our communities, our state, and our country, thereshould be a message of hope, of tolerance, of unity. We cannot afford the high cost words of divisiveness and cruelty leave in their wake.”
Artiles took to the Senate floor Wednesday morning to apologize for his profanity-laced and racially offensive language when he criticized Gibson andNegron’s leadership. But he also said at the time that he would not resign and planned to run for re-election in 2018.
The legislative black caucus filed a formal complaint on Wednesday and requested the Senate expel Artiles, who was stripped of his committeechairmanship.
On Thursday, House Speaker Richard Corcoran said the remarks made were “reprehensible,” but stopped short of saying Artiles should resign. Gov. RickScott said he would “immediately fire” an employee who said what Artiles said.
Senate General Counsel Dawn Roberts was acting as special master overseeing an investigation of Monday’s incident. Senate Rules Chairwoman LizbethBenacquisto asked Roberts to provide a report by Tuesday. The rules committee was to decide if any action should be recommended to the full Senatewith final approval on the floor requiring a two-thirds vote.
Negron’s statement noted, “I have directed the Special Master to close her investigation. No further action by the Senate will be taken in regard to thismatter.”
Tia Mitchell: (850) 933-1321