By Bernie Woodall
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (Reuters) – A Florida state senator resigned on Friday after coming under pressure for yelling obscenities and racial slurs inside a lounge frequented by lawmakers at the state capital in Tallahassee.
Senator Frank Artiles, a Republican from Miami-Dade County, made the comments on Monday night to two Democratic senators, both of whom are black, at the members-only Governor’s Club, the Miami Herald reported on Tuesday.
“I am responsible and I am accountable and effective immediately, I am resigning from the Florida State Senate,” Artiles wrote in a resignation letter delivered to the state Senate Majority Leader Joe Negron on Friday.
Artiles yelled at Democratic Senator Audrey Gibson, who earlier that day had questioned some bills Artiles sponsored, according to the Miami Herald. He called the Jacksonville senator a “bitch” and a “girl.”
Artiles also called Democrat Perry Thurston, a black senator from Fort Lauderdale, an “asshole.”
He also said Negron had risen to majority leader because of the support of six Republican senators he called “niggas,” the newspaper reported.
Artiles on Wednesday apologized on the state Senate floor. He did not directly mention the comments he made on Monday night, but admitted he made offensive comments.
Thurston on Thursday filed a formal complaint to have Artiles expelled from the legislative body. He could not be reached for comment on Friday.
Gibson issued a statement on Friday, saying, “This has been an ordeal that no one should have to endure.”
On Tuesday, Negron said in a statement that he has been informed of Artiles’ comments by the senate’s minority leader, Democrat Oscar Braynon.
“Racial slurs and profane, sexist insults have no place in conversation between senators and will not be tolerated,” Negron’s statement said.
Public protests followed, including one at Artiles’ Miami-area headquarters where signs were posted on his office windows demanding that he resign.
Artiles, a former Marine, was elected in November to the senate after serving six years in the Florida House of Representatives.
“My actions and my presence in government is now a distraction to my colleagues, the legislative process and the citizens of our great state,” he said in his resignation letter.
(Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Richard Chang)