Florida Republican Frank Artiles finally did something wonderful that Democrats and even members of his own party can agree is special: he resigned in disgrace. The Miami New Times reports:
Miami state Sen. Frank Artiles unleashed a bigoted tirade against his fellow lawmakers earlier this week, in which he reportedly said state Senate President Joe Negron was a “pussy,” called two Tallahassee lobbyists “faggots,” and used the N-word to refer to six white lawmakers — in front of a black legislator. Earlier this week, he apologized, only to try to fight for his job by continuing to lob insulting letters at his colleagues.
Frank Artiles is a poster child of the Florida Republican Party’s brand of racist, homophobic demagoguery combined with an instinct for selling out residents to deep-pocketed special interests.
“My actions and my presence in government is now a distraction to my colleagues,” he wrote without grammar check (see below), “the legislative process and the citizens of our great State.”
After his resignation, the Miami Herald revealed that Artiles had been hiring former Hooters girls and models as “consultants” for his “fundraising” junkets to Key West and the Kentucky Derby.
The long list of expenditures filed with the Florida Division of Elections by Artiles’ political committee, Veterans for Conservative Principles, also raised some questions. Why did the committee hire a former Hooters “calendar girl” and a Playboy model with no political experience as “consultants?” Were the payments related to a trip to the Kentucky Derby or a fishing tournament in Key West? What was the more than $51,000 in reimbursements to Artiles for?
The racist Republican lawmaker was already becoming well known for all the wrong reasons, after reports showed that he was censoring hundreds of his constituents – and this author – for calling him the Sunshine State’s “bathroom cop.”
Former Senator Artiles admitted to blocking 400 people on his social media channels when they criticized the GOP lawmaker for pushing a gender identity discrimination and anti-gay rights bill, which would have required Florida to hire bathroom police.
As Jerry Iannelli writes, today’s political obituary for the Florida Republican Party’s leading bigot was long coming:
The shameful resignation is, frankly, not that surprising for people who have tracked Artiles’ career for more than a handful of months. In the past, he’d been accused of punching a college kid in Gainesville (which he denied); filed a bill that would have discriminated against transgender people and also bankrupted the state tourism economy; attempted to paint his black opponent (and Black Lives Matter organizers) as terrorist sympathizers; and accepted thousands of dollars in free gifts from the state’s most powerful electricity company before advancing FPL-friendly bills. He’d also been caught on tape calling Middle Easterners “hajis.”
Frank Artiles, was the Florida Republican in charge of the Senate Committee regulating Florida Power and Light’s parent company Next Era, advanced two very anti-consumer bills on behalf of the state-regulated power monopoly, which caused heads to turn when his secret cash perks were revealed.
It turns out that Next Era Energy plied the racist Republican with corporate perks at a NASCAR event, clothing him in branded, Next Era Energy company gear, and letting him drop the flag to start the race. If he hadn’t posted a photo of the race onto Facebook, his constituents might not have found out, but that wasn’t all.
The GOP lawmaker had secretly accepted a paid trip to Disneyworld from Next Era where they took him on a Drinking Around the World Tour to celebrate their friendship and his ardent work to take money from regular Floridians who have no alternatives but to pay.
Shamefully, Artiles’ Republican colleagues didn’t take more offense to the lawmaker’s naked pay for play schemes, than they ultimately did at being publicly insulted.
In the wake of this week’s racial slur incident, Artiles issued a big non-apology in the Senate and instructed his lawyer to threaten his Republican colleagues in leadership before they could vote him out of Florida’s Senate.
Florida’s Republican Party took a man whose quick temper, offensive language and even worse policies who would harm millions of working people in the state, and gave him authority over the cost of the essential utility service we all use.
The Miami Herald asked if the disgraced Republican ex-Senator was just a bigot, or just a very stupid bully.
Frank Artiles is both, and he’s in office as a product of the Florida Republican Party’s offensive brand of corrupt politics and tolerance for the worst homophobes and racists.
— Jim DeFede (@DeFede) April 21, 2017
Grant Stern is an Editor-At-Large for OccupyDemocrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and a senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition