Politics

Florida state senator who resigned over racial slur hired former Playboy, Hooters models

The Florida state senator who resigned this week after using a racial slur previously hired a former Hooters “calendar girl” and a Playboy model with no political experience to be consultants for his political action committee.

The PAC for Florida state Sen. Frank Artiles, a Republican, hired the women last year and paid them a total $3,500, The Miami Herald reported Saturday, based on state records.

The women who worked for Artiles’ Veterans for Conservative Principals PAC are identified as former Hooters model Heather Thomas and former Playboy model Brittney Singletary, who received $2,000 and $1,500, respectively.

Artiles’ political consultant, David Custin, reportedly declined to answer the paper’s questions. Singletary said she did fundraising for the PAC, and Thomas declined to comment.

Artiles resigned Friday after he used vulgarities and a variation of the “n-word” in a barroom conversation with two black colleagues earlier in the week.

Artiles submitted a resignation letter to Republican Senate President Joe Negron and issued a separate statement.

“I clearly made comments that were hurtful, unacceptable and inappropriate,” Artiles said in the statement. 

Negron said the resignation was the right thing to do, and he dropped an investigation into the incident.

“All of us are accountable for our actions and our comments, so I think it’s an appropriate resignation,” Negron said.

The Florida Legislative Black Caucus filed a complaint about the incident on Wednesday and asked that Artiles be removed from office.

The matter began Monday night during a private conversation with Sens. Audrey Gibson and Perry Thurston at the Governors Club, a members-only establishment near the Capitol.

Artiles used vulgarities in talking with Gibson, including one particularly offensive to women. Sen. Perry Thurston intervened and Artiles, a Cuban-American from the Miami area, used a variation of the “n-word” and used a vulgarity to describe Negron, according to the complaint filed Wednesday by Thurston.

Artiles apologized for the comments on the Senate floor on Wednesday, but Democrats said that wasn’t enough.

Democratic Senate Leader Oscar Braynon, who is African-American, issued a statement saying Artiles did the right thing by resigning.

“I take no pleasure in these unfortunate events. But I urge that we learn from them,” Braynon said.

Artiles won his seat in November in a district that’s politically competitive. He previously served in the state House from 2010 to 2016. His resignation now gives Democrats a chance to gain a seat in the chamber, though Republicans still have a 24-15 majority even with his resignation.

“While I take full responsibility for using language that was vulgar and inappropriate, my family has fallen victim to a political process that can distort the truth for the sole purpose of political gain,” Artiles said.

Gov. Rick Scott will have to set a date for a special election to replace him.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

 

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