The night before the official beginning of the Florida legislative session, Miami-area Rep. Frank Artiles was hanging out at a Tallahassee bar, Clydes & Costello's, into the early hours of the morning.
That's all anyone seems to know for sure, but Artiles has been publicly accused of punching a college kid after a disagreement. Artiles has denied the accusations.
The purported incident came to light after L.J. Govoni, a former aide to another Republican representative, made a series of tweets, starting just after 1:30 in the morning, accusing Artiles of hitting a man. Govoni's Twitter feed has since been set to private.
- Hey @Artiles118 nice punch u threw tonight at that 21 yr old kid. Hope ur proud. Ur a joke. @SaintPetersblog @anthonypedicini
- Still in complete shock at what I saw last night... An elected state rep sucker punching a kid in the face at a bar. @adamsmithtimes
Perhaps the change of Govoni's Twitter privacy settings isn't a surprise. Artiles told Political Fix Florida that he would have lawyers send Govoni a cease-and-desist letter.
Artiles, of course, denied the incident even occurred.
"Nothing happened," Artiles said. "I don't know who that guy was. He was short, chubby, and just came up to me and started yelling."
However, the Miami Herald located the alleged victim, Peter Alberti, a college student originally from Connecticut. Alberti says Artiles punched him as he was trying to make his way past him to get drinks at the bar.
Artiles denied the charges again to the Herald, claiming that if he had punched someone, that person would be in the hospital. He also believes the whole thing was set up by political rivals.
Artiles' office hasn't answered calls from New Times to discuss the alleged punching. Messages left for the Tallahassee Police Department have not yet been returned.
Incidentally, Artiles is the man behind one of this year's most controversial bills: a law that would forbid transgender people from using their preferred bathrooms. That bill is set to be heard in its first committee tomorrow.
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