Courtesy of The Miami Herald
Published January 19, 2018
Ever since Frank Artiles was forced to resign his Florida
Senate seat last year, leaders of the state’s upper chamber have been
looking over their shoulders, worried that their former colleague was out
Jeff Clemens, the incoming Senate Democratic leader,
admitted in October to an affair with a lobbyist and then resigned. Jack
Latvala, a powerful Republican with gubernatorial aspirations, stepped down
in January following multiple accusations of sexual harassment.
Then last week, as
lawmakers opened this year’s legislative session, Oscar
Braynon and Anitere Flores, both senior members of the
Senate, admitted to having a bipartisan affair after someone
posted a hidden camera in the hallway of the condo building
where they each have apartments and created an anonymous
website dedicated to their infidelity.
Now, in the aftermath, Artiles is looking around at a
different political landscape and wondering whether his
political career isn’t dead after all.
In an interview with the Miami Herald, the Miami Republican,
who resigned last year after an alcohol-fueled tirade in a
Tallahassee bar, dismissed speculation that he had hired
private investigators after his ouster in order to tail his
enemies in the Florida Senate and expose their dirt. He also
said he believes the district that elected him never stopped
supporting him, and that he’s been emboldened to try and
return to office after watching scandal after scandal trump
his own political implosion.
“I want to finish what
I started and clear my name,” he said.
Frank Artiles resigned his Florida Senate seat last
year after apologizing for an alcohol-fueled tirade to two black
lawmakers in a Capital bar.
Artiles lost his seat in April after the Miami Herald
reported that, in a rant to black lawmakers Audrey Gibson and Perry Thurston
at a bar near the state Capitol, he called Gibson a “bitch” and referred to
some Republicans as “niggas.” Artiles, who initially tried to fight to
survive, was later forced to apologize on the Senate floor. He resigned
under pressure after Thurston filed a formal complaint seeking his removal
from office, and after he learned that the Miami Herald was writing about
how his political committee paid two models as consultants.
Artiles says he remains contrite about what he said to Gibson and Thurston,
but he also contends that he was “assassinated by the media.”
“I was asked to leave because of vulgarity. No matter what those words were,
it was vulgarity, profanity in a private setting — while other people are
sleeping with state employees, other people are sexually harassing and
touching inappropriately and trading votes,” he told the Herald. “Compared
to everybody under investigation or [written about in] articles, I look like
a Boy Scout.”
Told of his comments, Gibson laughed.
“That’s an insult to Boy Scouts,” Democratic state Sen. Annette Taddeo said.
“There were a lot of people offended by what he did.”
Gibson, D-Jacksonville, had “no comment on how Frank Artiles feels about
Frank Artiles.” Thurston, D-Lauderhill, said that voters will be the
ultimate judges of whether Artiles should be forgiven.
“Everybody has an opportunity to run as long as the rules allow him to,” he
Since his resignation, Artiles, a Marine Corps veteran who is married with
two children, has been mostly quiet. He says he’s been busy working as a
public adjustor following Hurricane Irma. And while he says he’s been
courted by other Republicans to dabble in political consulting, he’s “been
trying to stay away from that as much as possible.”
Still, his name has been the subject of rumors and speculation ever since he
“I’m tired of the innuendo and the press making me out to be the boogeyman.
When private investigators leaked lawmakers’ scandalous secrets to Politico
Florida, whose reporting led to Clemens’ resignation and the beginning of
the end for Latvala, some speculated that it was Artiles’ payback. During
the Republican primary to claim the seat he resigned, rumors popped up that
he was involved behind the scenes.
Braynon has publicly posted that Artiles was behind the leaks after he found
a hidden camera in a hallway of the Tennyson, a condo where the Senate
Democratic Caucus leader and a number of other lawmakers and lobbyists live
during the legislative session. He called Artiles this month to clear the
Calling Sen. Frank Artiles a "bully," members of the Florida Legislative
Black Caucus are seeking the expulsion of the Miami Republican from the
Florida Senate after he insulted a black female senator using curse words
and a racial slur.
The demographics of the seat, which represents Kendall, favor Democrats. But
after looking over the data from the low-turnout special election to replace
him, won by Taddeo by 3.75 points, Artiles says he’s confident he can
reclaim his old position if he tries, noting that a half-dozen bills he
filed last year were carried by colleagues after he resigned and ended up
First, though, he says he wants to give Taddeo a chance to prove herself.
“I’ve not finalized the decision on whether or not I’m going to run,” said
Artiles. “That decision is going to come after this session when we see what