Apology not enough — state Sen. Artiles should resign

Miami Herald Editorial Board

As far as apologies go, it was too little, too late.

From his unconscionable — and repeated — use of a racial and sexist slurs directed at an African-American colleague to his ridiculously choreographed first apology that he had to be prodded into making, Rep. Frank Artiles, again, has shown the public his measure.

And he does not measure up to anyone who should serve in the state Legislature.

In his public apology on the Senate floor Wednesday, Artiles asked for forgiveness for his behavior from his fellow senators. He hoped to silence the drumbeat calling for his resignation. But we, too, are joining that call. The state senator from Miami-Dade should resign.

Artiles is obviously a bully, an ex-Marine who, by his own admission, has an aggressive style, and, if not a racist, not afraid to use the language of racism. Indeed, what’s the difference?

Three hours after his mea culpa and as calls for Artiles’ resignation mounted, Democratic Sen. Perry Thurston of Fort Lauderdale, who partly heard Artiles “racist rant,” filed a formal complaint on behalf of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus seeking his removal.

“The shadow he has cast over our chamber deserves the most severe punishment available,” Thurston wrote in a letter to the head the Senate Rules Committee charged with dealing with Artiles’ misconduct. Explusion would not be too harsh a recommendation.

Artiles, however, says he will not resign and, instead, says he will seek reelection in 2018.

Artiles’ downfall began Monday evening when he approached African-American Democratic colleague Sen. Audrey Gibson of Jacksonville at the Governors Club. He was there to suggest that a series of questions he’d asked about one of her bills earlier in the day were payback for questions she’d asked of one of Artiles’ bills. In other words, he came to bully her.

He then let loose with a series of crude and sexist insults against her at the members-only club in Tallahassee, where Thurston was also sitting at the table.

On a roll, Artiles then referred to Republican colleagues — all white, by the way — who backed Senate President Joe Negron’s as “niggas.” Wednesday, Negron stripped Artiles of his chairmanship of the Communications, Energy and Public Utilities Committee, more symbolic than consequential.

Controversy follows this troubled man. Two years ago, he was accused of punching a college student at a club in Tallahassee, a charge he denied, though witness corroborated the student’s account. That incident blew away. This latest one shouldn’t. In 2006, State Rep. Ralph Arza was forced to resign after he made racist slurs, a move the Editorial Board similarly urged.

Artiles, grasping at straws, blamed his words all on being “from Hialeah” — another insult, this time to fellow Cuban Americans.

We get it that Artiles meant to convey that he’s from a blue-collar neighborhood where calling it as you see it might supersede sensitivity. But it was a slap for him to imply that his abhorrent behavior is accepted in that city. Artiles, elected to the Senate last year, does not represent Hialeah but a large part of Southwest Miami-Dade.

No, Artiles should blame his being coarse, insensitive, and lack of integrity to such as degree that by the time he delivered his second so-called “heartfelt apology” on the Senate floor, it came off as insincere — and simply too late.