Sen. Lauren Book is releasing a statement condemning Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Mast after the South Florida Sun-Sentinel uncovered years-old Facebook posts where Mast joked about sleeping with 15-year-olds and rape.
“Brian Mast has demonstrated a complete lack of respect for women and questionable moral character unbecoming of a Congressman with disgusting ‘jokes’ about pedophilia, rape, and murder made on social media,” Book said in a Friday statement.
Mast posted the comments in 2009 and 2011 in response to posts by Rocco LeDonni, a long-time Mast friend who now serves as his campaign manager.
In a 2009 post, LeDonni uploaded a picture of him at a bar during a trip to South Africa. In a comment, Mast wrote, “i’m so proud of you… i hope you hook up with at least fifteen 15 year olds over there…. its legel there right.”
In a 2011 post, LeDonni asked, “Anyone have any good pick up lines for this weekend considering according to the crazy christian radio guy the world may end on sunday?”
In response, Mast wrote, “How about don’t turn this rape into a murder.”
Mast apologized Tuesday night in response to questioning from the Sun-Sentinel.
“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.
Mast spokesperson Brad Stewart clarified Mast’s remarks in a statement to Florida Politics Wednesday.
“The first comment was made when he was in the Army in 2009 and the second statement was made following his injury in 2011,” Stewart said. “That is what the statement says: ‘When I was in the Army, and following my injury…’”
Still, Book called Mast out for referencing the injury at all in explaining the posts.
“His armed service is heroic, but using his injuries as an excuse is not only unacceptable but indefensible, as the first post in question was made prior to sustaining the very injuries on which he blamed the grotesque remarks,” Book said.
“People make mistakes — but Mast’s comments over the course of several years go beyond a simple mistake or singular instance of poor judgment. Violence against women happens every 9 seconds in America and it is no laughing matter.”
Book is an outspoken advocate on child sexual abuse issues. She’s a survivor of childhood sexual abuse herself and launched the Lauren’s Kids Foundation prior to her legislative career to help provide resources to victims.
The Senator adds her name to a growing list of officials and organizations that have condemned Mast’s remarks. That list includes the Florida Democratic Party and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. EMILY’s List and Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay have also hammered Mast, with McKinlay calling for him to resign.