Both Republicans and Democrats are now glad former State Senator Frank Artiles is gone. Democrats hated him for being an outright bigot, and Republicans mostly just hated him because he made them look bad. But, either way, after dropping the N-word in front of a black colleague and becoming a national hate-conduit for an entire week, Artiles, who represented parts of West Kendall in Florida's 40th State Senate district, officially resigned his post on Friday.
"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. "I am responsible and I am accountable and effective immediately, I am resigning from the Florida State Senate."
And so, in losing Artiles, the state senate arguably loses its largest festering sore of a lawmaker. Using the N-word this week was far from Artiles' first bout of bigotry — in fact, it's staggering and unacceptable that he was able to win a promotion to the Florida Senate in 2016 at all, given his long record of clear assholery. So today, we toast to you, Frank Artiles, as we recap our favorite moments from your political career! Here's to hoping you hate whatever lucrative lobbying job you inevitably take in Tallahassee next week.
But since the Miami Herald broke news late Friday that you paid Hooters and Playboy models as political "consultants," we expect we'll still be hearing your name pretty often in the coming weeks.
One of Artiles' first big splashes — and first major scandals — came when he co-sponsored a bill that prevented Florida doctors from asking patients if they own guns, and stopped physicians from discussing gun-safety with citizens. The measure had the backing of the National Rifle Association. Doctors sued, the bill eventually cost the state thousands in legal fees, and the state lost anyhow in 2017. Courts ruled the bill violated doctors' freedom of speech rights. Artiles tried to go on Anderson Cooper 360 in 2011, but Cooper schooled him and called him "adamantly inaccurate."
Florida election law unambiguously says you must live in your voting district by the time you take office. But in 2010, Artiles' district was redrawn, and his house was no longer inside the boundaries. He promised to move to comply with the law. But five months after the election, local blogger (and former Miami Herald reporter) Elaine del Valle caught Artiles still living in his old home. She nabbed him by knocking on his front door. He was in gym shorts watching a Heat game.
In 2015, former GOP aide L.J. Govoni said he saw Artiles punch a college kid in Tallahassee. Artiles denied the charge. Then the actual college kid — 21-year-old Peter Alberti — came forward and confirmed that Artiles punched him. Artiles denied the charge yet again.
In 2015, Artiles filed a bill that would have forced transgender people to use the bathrooms that correspond to their birth genders. Artiles literally filed the bill after Miami-Dade County passed a Human Rights Ordinance banning anti-trans discrimination. That's actually what inspired him. He claimed he was worried that men would walk into women's rooms and assault people. Artiles has since proven he's a much bigger public liability than transgender people. His bill died, but North Carolina passed its infamous, near-identical bill the next year.
Artiles once got taped calling Middle-Eastern people "Hajis." Even worse, he made the comment while discussing which Muslim people he would kill.
“I know your foreign policy plan is to exterminate all Muslims,” [former political candidate Omar Rivero] responded, in reference to an earlier part of the conversation not on the 10-minute recording.
“No, no, it’s not,” Artiles said. “Only the bad ones.”
“That’s what you said earlier,” Rivero pressed.
“And I didn’t say Muslims,” Artiles said. “I said, ‘Hajis.’ There’s a difference.”
This one somehow did not disqualify Artiles from public office: In 2016, he circulated photos of his opponent, Dwight Bullard, wearing a hood. That photo was taken from a Trayvon Martin protest Bullard, who is black, participated in. But Artiles implied the photo was taken in Israel, where he claimed Bullard and a group of Black Lives Matter activists intentionally met with a Palestinian terrorist. They didn't.
Earlier this year, Florida Power and Light spent $2,000 to send Artiles to the Daytona 500 and Disney World. He hung out with some FPL lobbyists in Epcot, and wore a jacket at Daytona emblazoned with the logo of FPL's parent company, NextEra Energy. He then advanced some FPL-friendly bills in the Florida Senate. And only reported the multi-thousand-dollar travel gifts after the Herald asked about them.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Miami New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Miami's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
We all know this one already: Artiles drunkenly called Senate President Joe Negron a "pussy," reportedly called two lobbyists "faggots," and used the N-word to refer to six white state senators while speaking to a black lawmaker. Artiles is now out of a job.
But Artiles is not out of the woods quite yet: Late Friday, the Herald reported that Artiles paid thousands of dollars to a former Hooters waitress and a former Playboy model, who were both listed as "consultants" on his payroll. One of the "consultants" posted a photo of herself fishing near Key West on a boat, next to someone in an "Artiles & Beshears Fishing Tournament" shirt.