Two black state senators in Florida accuse colleague Sen. Frank Artiles of using racist language—and offering an excuse nearly as shameful. Democratic Sens. Audrey Gibson and Perry Thurston says they were approached by the Cuban-American Republican over drinks at the Governor's Club in Tallahassee Monday night. They say Artiles told them that Republican Senate President Joe Negron was only in the role because "six n---ers" in the GOP caucus had elected him, the Miami Herald reports. The senators say Artiles later claimed that he had used the slang term "niggas," which he considers a different term.
It's not clear who Artiles was referring to, since there are no black Republicans in the Florida state Senate, the New York Daily News notes. Gibson and Thurston say Artiles also called Gibson a "f---ing a--hole" and a "b----"—apparently without offering alternative spellings. Gibson tells the Herald it was the most disrespect she had ever encountered and she was so upset she had to leave. Negron said Tuesday that he is "appalled' by the incident and Artiles will apologize on the Senate floor Wednesday. Artiles apologized in a statement Tuesday afternoon, saying, "I unfortunately let my temper get the best of me. There is no excuse ... and I have apologized to my Senate colleagues and regret the incident profusely." Said Negron in a statement: "Racial slurs and profane, sexist insults have no place in conversation between senators and will not be tolerated while I am serving as Senate president," he said. (Read more Florida stories.)