WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A Palm Beach County commissioner is calling for the resignation of a South Florida congressman after social media posts in which he joked about rape surfaced.
Commissioner Melissa McKinlay said Tuesday night on Twitter that U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., "should resign."
Not. Cool. Downright awful, actually. Joking about sexual assault of a child & rape? Because in Florida what he describes w 15yr old is rape. No apology can ever suffice for these comments. He should resign.@PeterSchorschFL @Fla_Pol @pbpost @WPTV @MWilliamsWPTV5 @NationalNOW https://t.co/48IqNYzdxB— Melissa McKinlay (@VoteMcKinlay) August 26, 2020
According to a report in the South Florida SunSentinel, Mast joked about rape and referenced sex with 15-year-old girls in an old Facebook comment to a friend who is now his campaign manager.
Mast, who represents portions of northern Palm Beach County, as well as St. Lucie and Martin counties, has apologized for his remarks.
"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 in a statement to WPTV. "I am sorry about that part of who I was, and I strive every day to be a better example for my kids."
Mast, who recently won the Republican primary and will take on Democratic opponent Pam Keith in the November election, is a war veteran who lost both of his legs and a finger to an improvised explosive device while serving in Afghanistan in 2010.
Keith, who is a former U.S. Navy lawyer, called Mast's comments "disgusting, unacceptable and dishonorable."
Disgusting, unacceptable and dishonorable. @BrianMastFL comments about rape, violence, and intimidation of women and children are not a punchline. His words are an insult and betrayal to the women he claims to represent. https://t.co/tGv9XHNkUQ— Pam Keith (@PamKeithFL) August 25, 2020
"His words are an insult and betrayal to the women he claims to represent," she continued.
A recent television advertisement released by the Mast campaign alleges that Keith trivialized rape in a tweet in which she spoke about Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
Keith did not address the political ad in a statement to WPTV but said, in part, that Mast's "words are an insult and betrayal to the women he claims to represent."
Nyla Pipes, a self-described Republican from Port St. Lucie, told WPTV she has been a victim of rape.
"What I think is wrong in our society right now is we have a tendency to normalize sexually inappropriate comments," Pipes said.
Republican consultant Larry Casey said he believes the controversy puts Mast in "a very serious situation."
"It seems to me that this will sink in the next couple of days and this information will flood our mailboxes and our TVs, not necessarily from the Democratic opponent, but from third parties, and I think they will be all over the place on this," he said.