Republican Rep. Brian Mast is apologizing for what he called “disgusting and inappropriate jokes” about sex with 15-year-olds and rape in newly-uncovered Facebook posts.
The postings were first reported by Skyler Swisher of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
The controversial comments were made in 2009 and 2011 in response to posts by Rocco LeDonni, a long-time Mast friend who now serves as his campaign manager.
In the 2009 post, LeDonni uploaded a picture of him at a bar during a trip to South Africa. In a comment on Ledonni’s photo, Mast wrote, “im so proud of you… i hope you hook up with at least fifteen 15 year olds over there…. its legel there right.”
In 2011, LeDonni posted this question: “Anyone have any good pick up lines for this weekend considering according to the crazy christian radio guy the world may end on sunday?”
That prompted Mast to reply, “How about don’t turn this rape into a murder.”
Mast has held the seat in Florida’s 18th Congressional District since winning the 2016 contest. In response to questioning from the Sun-Sentinel about the posts, Mast apologized.
“A decade ago when I was in the Army, and following my injury, I made disgusting and inappropriate jokes that I am embarrassed to have associated with my name today,” Mast said.
“I am sorry about that part of who I was, and I strive every day to be a better example for my kids.”
While Mast referenced his 2010 injury, when he lost both of his legs after an IED explosion, the first post came in 2009, prior to that injury.
Former Navy JAG Officer Pam Keith is challenging Mast in 2020 after securing the Democratic nomination last week.
Mast has tried to make Keith’s hyper-charged social media persona an issue in the campaign. Just last week, Mast released an ad highlighting Keith’s reaction to accusations Biden had committed sexual assault. In response, Keith wrote on Twitter that Biden “still has LOTS of rape to do to catch up to [Donald] Trump.”
Keith was making the point that Trump has been accused of forcible assault multiple times. She also said of the allegations against Biden, “I highly doubt that’s true.” She eventually deleted the post.
In response to Mast’s old Facebook comments, Keith bashed the Congressman.
“This is disgusting, unacceptable and dishonorable behavior for any man, let alone a sitting member of Congress,” Keith said.
“Rape, violence and intimidation of women and children are not Brian Mast’s punchline — his words are an insult and betrayal to the women he claims to represent.”
Cheri Bustos, chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, also hammered Mast late Tuesday.
“Congressman Mast’s flippant and cavalier attitude towards rape and sexual violence has no place in the halls of Congress,” Bustos said.
“No excuse or apology can erase his words. Minority Leader [Kevin] McCarthy must condemn Congressman Mast’s behavior that actively encourages rape and sexual violence, and [National Republican Congressional Committee] Chairman [Tom] Emmer must remove Congressman Mast from the NRCC’s Patriot Program.”