South Florida Congressman Brian Mast joked about rape and referenced sex with 15-year-old girls in old Facebook comments to a friend who is now his campaign manager.
The messages were posted years ago, but they’ve surfaced in Mast’s tough reelection fight against Democratic challenger Pam Keith.
Mast, a 40-year-old Republican, represents one South Florida’s most competitive swing districts. He apologized for the remarks on Tuesday.
One of the comments involves a Feb. 23, 2009, photo of a bar outing posted by Rocco LeDonni, who is now Mast’s campaign manager. The photo was taken during LeDonni’s vacation to South Africa.
Mast commented, “im so proud of you … i hope you hook up with at least fifteen 15 year olds over there … . its legel there right.”
Two years later, LeDonni asked in a May 20, 2011, post: “Anyone have any good pick up lines for this weekend considering according to the crazy christian radio guy the world may end on sunday?”
“How about don’t turn this rape into a murder,” Mast responded.
In a statement Tuesday, Mast apologized for the posts.
“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,” he said. “I am sorry about that part of who I was, and I strive every day to be a better example for my kids.”
Mast is a decorated war veteran. He lost his legs and a finger when a bomb exploded under him in September 2010 in Afghanistan.
After the explosion, Mast was hospitalized at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center into 2012, where he underwent numerous surgeries, learned to walk again and was often heavily medicated.
LeDonni has been a senior campaign adviser and political consultant for Mast since he first was elected in 2016, according to his LinkedIn profile.
The posts were public on LeDonni’s Facebook page, but they were removed from view after Mast’s campaign was contacted by the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
Keith, a former Navy JAG officer, condemned the posts in a statement.
“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.”
Keith hasn’t held back on social media. In March 2020, Keith responded to a comment that Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden might have raped someone.
“That means he still has LOTS of rape to do to catch up to Trump. Also … . I highly doubt that’s true,” she wrote.
Mast represents a competitive district that includes northern Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast.
He has often voted in favor of President Donald Trump’s agenda in Congress, but he broke ranks with the GOP when he supported gun control measures after the Feb. 14, 2018, Parkland school shooting that left 17 students and staff dead.
Trump considered Mast for the position of Veterans Affairs secretary in 2018. Instead, Trump decided to nominate Robert Wilkie, the acting secretary.
Mast beat Democrat Randy Perkins in 2016 with 53% of the vote and won another close victory over Lauren Baer in 2018 with 54% of the vote.
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