A Republican state senator from Florida reportedly used wildly inappropriate language when in a conversation with two of his African-American colleagues at a private club Monday night, dropping the n-word and singling one of the pair out as a "f--king a--hole," "b-tch," and "girl," The Miami Herald reports.
Republican state Sen. Frank Artiles, who represents Miami, complained to Democratic state Sens. Audrey Gibson of Jacksonville and Perry Thurston of Fort Lauderdale that "six n--gers" in the Republican caucus had helped elect Senate President Joe Negron over his preferred candidate, Sen. Jack Latvala of Clearwater. The only black senators in the state Senate are Democrats who did not back Negron.
"I said, 'Dude, did you say 'n--gers?'" Thurston recalled asking. "'No, I said n--gas,' [Artiles replied,] which is different in his mind."
Artiles had reportedly initially approached Gibson and Thurston at their table at the members-only Governors Club to flaunt that his interrogation of one of Gibson's bills that day had been retaliation for when she asked questions about one of his bills. Artiles called Gibson "this f--king a--hole," "girl," and "this b-tch" during his rant. When Thurston and another person at the table intervened to ask what Artiles meant, Artiles denied using the language and said he hadn't meant disrespect.
Artiles, who is Cuban-American, then reportedly used the n-word to complain about Negron's rise in the Senate. "I'm from Hialeah," he reportedly added, apparently to explain his language. Hialeah, a city in Miami-Dade County, is over 92 percent white.
In response to the incident, Democrats have called for Artiles to resign. Artiles apologized to Gibson and Thurston and Negron said in a statement: "It is my understanding that this matter has been resolved by the senators involved."
That isn't enough for Gibson, at least. "I can't remember a time in my life when anybody called me either one of those things," she told the Herald, adding that any apology is "meaningless."
"It's just the most disrespect I've ever encountered."