Brian Jeffery Mast (born July 10, 1980) is an American politician and U.S. military veteran who has served as the U.S. representative for Florida's 18th congressional district since 2017. Mast is a member of the Republican Party.
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Florida's 18th district
|Assumed office |
January 3, 2017
|Preceded by||Patrick Murphy|
Brian Jeffery Mast
July 10, 1980
Grand Rapids, Michigan, U.S.
|Education||Palm Beach Atlantic University|
American Military University
Harvard University (ALB)
|Branch/service||United States Army|
|Years of service||2000–2011|
|Unit||28th Ordnance Company|
|Battles/wars||War in Afghanistan|
Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Army Commendation Medal
Early life and educationEdit
Mast was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is the son of James Mast and Tixomena Trujillo. His maternal grandparents were immigrants from Mexico. Mast graduated from South Christian High School in 1999. In 2016, he obtained an A.L.B. from Harvard University Extension School with a concentration in economics and minors in government and environmental studies.
After graduating from high school, Mast enlisted in the United States Army Reserve in May 2000 and became a combat engineer. In 2006, he transitioned to the active U.S. Army and became an explosive ordnance disposal technician. Mast later joined the elite 28th Ordnance Company, a special operations explosive ordnance disposal unit that works alongside personnel of the 75th Ranger Regiment. He served in Afghanistan as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. On September 19, 2010, while clearing a path for United States Army Rangers in Kandahar, Mast stepped on an IED along the road. The explosion resulted in the amputation of both his legs and his left index finger.
After his honorable discharge from the Army, Mast was hired as an explosives specialist for the United States Department of Homeland Security. While recovering from his injuries at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Mast provided explosive and counter-terrorism expertise to the Office of Emergency Operations at the National Nuclear Security Administration from July 2011 to February 2012 and as an instructor of homemade explosives for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
U.S. House of RepresentativesEdit
On June 8, 2015, Mast announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination for U.S. Representative in Florida's 18th congressional district. He defeated five opponents in the August 30, 2016, primary with 38% of the vote. Mast faced Democratic businessman Randy Perkins in the November 8 general election.
During the 2015-16 election campaign, Mast's largest donors were Duty Free Americas (owned by the pro-Israel Falic family), NextGen Management (a condo property firm), and Superior Foods (frozen foods).
Mast won the general election with 53% of the vote.
In 2016, Mast was briefly linked with World Patent Marketing, a company the Federal Trade Commission shut down as an invention promotion scam. World Patent Marketing donated money to Mast's campaign fund and said in a press release that he sat on their advisory board. Mast claimed no knowledge of being given a position on the board and said he only had a couple encounters with members of the company.
In 2018, Anthony Bustamante, a campaign consultant who had worked on Mast's 2016 campaign, told The Wall Street Journal that he had used data hacked from the Democratic National Committee by Guccifer 2.0, a front for Russia's GRU military intelligence service, to adjust Mast's campaign strategy. Guccifer 2.0 had leaked the hacked data to the HelloFLA blog.
On April 25, 2018, physician Mark Freeman announced a primary challenge to Mast, focusing on his promise to "defend the Second Amendment" and be an "unwavering partner" to President Trump. Freeman called Mast an "establishment candidate" and complained about Mast's shift on gun control issues after the Parkland school shooting.
Mast defeated Freeman in the Republican primary. In the general election, he defeated Democratic nominee Lauren Baer, an attorney and foreign policy expert who served as an official in the Obama Administration, with 54% of the vote.
During the 2017-18 election campaign, Mast's largest donors were Duty Free Americas and Amway/Alticor (run by the DeVos family). Between March and June 2018, Mast's campaign received thousands of dollars from Soviet-born Igor Fruman, one of two business associates of Rudy Giuliani who later faced charges of violating federal campaign finance laws. After this allegedly illegal contribution was discovered and reported by the press, Mast's spokesman said he would disburse the funds to the Treasury Department, but less than two weeks later, Mast said, "I think we donated it to charity."
Mast ran for reelection in 2020 election against Democratic nominee Pam Keith. In August 2020 he apologized for what he called "disgusting and inappropriate jokes" that he made on Facebook in 2009 and 2011.
In May 2018, the Associated Press reported that the Trump administration was considering Mast for secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
- Committee on Foreign Affairs
- Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
In the first session of the 115th United States Congress, Mast was ranked the 32nd most bipartisan member of the House by the Bipartisan Index, a metric published by The Lugar Center and Georgetown's McCourt School of Public Policy to assess congressional bipartisanship.
During Trump's presidency, Mast voted in line with the president's stated position 90.6% of the time. As of September 2021, Mast had voted in line with Joe Biden's stated position 19.4% of the time.
Mast believes abortion should be illegal except in cases where the woman's life is at risk or in cases of rape or incest.
In April 2018, Mast said he would probably vote for legislation to reduce support for sugar farmers, who under the then current Farm Bill were protected by fixed minimum prices, by limits on imports and on domestic production, and by government loans to sugar growers. "I expect I'll be supporting it when it comes up for a vote next week," Mast said of the Sugar Policy Modernization Act, "because it's important to the community I represent, and our waterways". The proposed act, reported TCPalm, "would make sugar import quotas more flexible and protect taxpayers from government-funded buyouts of surplus sugar". Mast said he would "probably be the only representative in the history of this district to vote against the sugar industry". Mast accepted over $15,000 in campaign donations from the executives at Florida Crystals and the Fanjul family that owns the company.
In December 2020, Mast was one of only five House Republicans to vote for the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act. The act aimed to "correct the historical injustices of failed drug policies that have disproportionately impacted communities of color"; it included provisions to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, impose a federal tax on cannabis products, and use the proceeds of the tax to fund restorative justice programs. A month before the vote, Mast invested between $15,000 and $50,000 in the cannabis company Tilray. He disclosed the purchase on December 1.
In November 2021, Mast was one of four original cosponsors of the Republican-led States Reform Act to legalize cannabis federally and regulate it similarly to alcohol.
In June 2016, Mast said he supported Trump "unanimously and wholeheartedly" in the 2016 presidential election. After the Billy Bush tape became public, he called Trump's remarks "inexcusable and disgusting". In February 2017, he voted against a resolution that would have directed the House to request ten years of Trump's tax returns, which would then have been reviewed by the House Ways and Means Committee in a closed session.
On December 18, 2019, Mast voted against both articles of impeachment against Trump. Of the 195 Republicans who voted, all voted against both impeachment articles.
Mast believes it was a mistake for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage.
Mast wrote an opinion piece in The New York Times in support of the Second Amendment right to bear arms, but said "it does not guarantee that every civilian can bear any and all arms." He supports a ban on assault weapons, citing his military background: "I cannot support the primary weapon I used to defend our people being used to kill the children I swore to defend."
After the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, Mast announced his support for prohibiting the sale of assault and tactical firearms without confiscating such weapons that are already owned; ensuring that all firearm purchasers undergo a background check; improving background checks; banning the sale of gun accessories that enhance the firing rate of weapons, such as bump stocks; preventing those who have been detained for mental illnesses from purchasing firearms; ensuring that those on the Terror Watch List cannot purchase firearms; and placing anyone who makes threats of violence against schools on an FBI watch list for "a long time".
Mast has at least partly blamed violent video games and violent movies for school shootings. In March 2017, he voted for the Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act. The measure passed the House but stalled in the Senate.
In June 2018, commenting on the Trump administration family separation policy, Mast said: "It is our duty as an American government to deal compassionately with any child from any nation, just as it is the responsibility of foreign families seeking asylum in the U.S. to choose only legal means to enter our nation so they can avoid family disruption. I am confident this process will be improved." Citing his own Mexican grandparents, he said, "The way that they got to work, the way that they assimilated to the American way of life and became a part of our system is not what we're seeing across the board."
In June 2018, a volunteer for the Democratic Party of Martin County who was angry about the Trump administration's immigration policy was arrested after threatening to kill Mast's children. The first trial in the case ended in a mistrial in April 2019.
Mast was critical of Obama's Middle East policy. "ISIS is as strong as it is because of a lack of US leadership," he said in 2016. "ISIS could have been defeated at the time of the Arab Spring if we had sent in special operations forces. What's being done now is too little too late. It's going to require an all-out military effort. The only way to guarantee peace is to make the enemy surrender."
Iran nuclear dealEdit
Mast views Obama's Iran nuclear deal as a betrayal by the U.S. of its own national security as well as that of Israel, Jordan, and other regional allies. "The deal has aligned us with a Shia regime, which is just enabling extremism. This is going to make it very hard to get Sunni regimes to align with us, and Putin is now the go-to player in Syria with his alliance with Assad," he said in 2016.
Mast is "a vocal supporter of Israel and Israelis", reported The Times of Israel during his 2016 campaign. "If anyone was lobbing rockets into the US, guys like me would be sent to kill them, and Americans would applaud us," he said.
Military and veterans affairsEdit
Mast, who sits on the House Veterans Affairs Committee, was the first member of Congress to open an office inside a federal agency. The office in question, which opened in 2018, was in the West Palm Beach Veterans Affairs facility. In 2018 he introduced a House bill that would make it easier for other House members to do the same. But in 2019, the Department of Veterans Affairs evicted Mast from the West Palm Beach office. Mast sent the VA Secretary Robert Wilkie a letter of complaint about the eviction.
Taxes and budgetEdit
In October 2017, Mast voted against the original version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 due to "out of control" federal spending, fear of the national debt growing, and a desire to see lower tax rates with loopholes closed. In December 2017, he voted for the final version of the bill, saying it "provides a lot of confidence to a lot of people" and is "a great moment for our country and our community".
President Barack Obama invited Mast as a guest to his 2011 State of the Union Address, at which he was seated with First Lady Michelle Obama and Second Lady Jill Biden. Mast was named one of 10 House freshmen to watch by the Washington, D.C. newspaper The Hill, out of 55 new members of the House elected in 2016.
- Michelle Tan (October 26, 2015). "EOD tech, double amputee runs for Congress". Army Times.
- "Former Grand Rapids man wounded in Afghanistan considers bid for Congress". Mlive.com. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
- Manjarres, Javier (September 15, 2015). "Brian Mast: Illegal Immigration Is A National Security Issue". Hispolitica.
- "Meet Brian". MastforCongress.com. Archived from the original on October 29, 2016. Retrieved November 14, 2016.
- "Treasure Coast's Brian Mast gets celebrity reception in Congress". TCPalm. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
- Brian Mast Ballotpedia. 2017. Retrieved May 27, 2017.
- "UXO News Wire Service (UXO Blog): Retired EOD Seeks to Continue Service as Congressman". Uxoinfo.com. November 11, 2015. Retrieved March 17, 2017.
- "A Combat Veteran Runs for Congress, and the Scrutiny Intensifies". The New York Times. Retrieved November 13, 2016.
- "Rangers receive awards for recent deployments". Army.mil. Retrieved November 13, 2016.
- "Wounded U.S. Army Veteran Receives Keys to New Home". Coralspringstalk.com. October 14, 2014. Retrieved October 31, 2016.Vets group says Brian Mast didn’t violate contract with new home purchase, Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, Florida Politics, 15 Oct 2016.
- Persons, Sally (September 25, 2017). "Rep. Brian Mast, a veteran, says NFL players kneeling during the national anthem should be penalized". Washington Times. Retrieved August 28, 2020.
- "Combat Veterans For Congress - Electing Fiscal Conservatives". combatveteransforcongress.org.
- "Brian Mast at Abacoa on September 14". Palm Beach County Tea Party. Retrieved March 12, 2017.
- Renee Ghert-Zand (March 2, 2016). "Pro-Israel US Army vet runs for Congress — on prosthetic legs". The Times of Israel. Retrieved January 9, 2017.
- "Double-amputee vet might enter CD-18; Grayson's Twitter trouble; the Rubio blueprint revealed; more Cuba moves in Miami; FL bear-hunt controversy". Politico. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
- Bennett, George (June 8, 2015). "Two more Republicans announce run for Patrick Murphy seat". Palm Beach Post.
- Bennett, George (October 31, 2016). "First time candidates Brian Mast, Randy Perkins to vie for U.S. House". Palm Beach Post.
- Brian Mast, Top 20 Contributors.
- "Analysis: Brian Mast's military story wins Patrick Murphy's U.S. House seat". TC publisherPalm. Retrieved November 13, 2016.
- Caygle, Heather (March 16, 2017). "Freshman lawmaker linked to company accused of million-dollar marketing scam". Politico. Retrieved January 4, 2018.
- "Mueller's Indictment of 12 Russian Spies is Very Bad for Trump". Mother Jones. Retrieved July 14, 2018.
- Alexandra Berzon; Rob Barry (May 25, 2017). "How Alleged Russian Hacker Teamed Up With Florida GOP Operative". The Wall Street Journal.
- Connolly, Griffin (April 26, 2018). "GOP Rep. Brian Mast Gets Pro-Gun Primary Challenger". Roll Call.
- "Florida Election Results: 18th House District". New York Times. Retrieved December 7, 2018.
- Brian Mast, Top 20 Contributors.
- Federal Election Commission, Mast campaign donations from "Igor Furman".
- Mast to return campaign donations linked to indicted Giuliani associate, Lindsey Leake, Treasure Coast Newspapers; 11 Oct 2019.
- GOP Rep. Brian Mast is keeping an 'open mind' on impeachment but frustrated by the process, Eve Samples, Treasure Coast Newspapers; 23 Oct 2019.
- Swisher, Skyler (August 25, 2020). "Congressman's old social media posts about sex with 15-year-old girls, rape surface in South Florida re-election fight". Sun Sentinel.
- "Members". Republican Mains Street Partnership. Archived from the original on August 26, 2018. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
- "90 Current Climate Solutions Caucus Members". Citizen's Climate Lobby. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
- Schmitz, Ali. "Treasure Coast voters don't support GOP tax plan, according to new poll". TCPalm. Retrieved December 24, 2017.
- "AP Source: Trump considering Army veteran for VA secretary". AP News. Retrieved May 10, 2018.
- "MEMBERS". RMSP. Retrieved March 1, 2021.
- "The Lugar Center – McCourt School Bipartisan Index" (PDF). Washington, D.C.: The Lugar Center. April 24, 2018. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
- "Delegation for 5.1.18 — Insights from the Beltway to the Sunshine State". St. Petersburg, Florida: Florida Politics. May 1, 2018. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
- Willis, Derek. "Represent". ProPublica. Retrieved February 18, 2017.
- Bycoffe, Aaron (January 30, 2017). "Tracking Brian J. Mast In The Age Of Trump". FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved February 18, 2017.
- Bycoffe, Anna Wiederkehr and Aaron (April 22, 2021). "Does Your Member Of Congress Vote With Or Against Biden?". FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved September 14, 2021.
- Treadway, Tyler (April 30, 2018). "Sugar policy: Brian Mast expected to cast historic vote to reduce sugar farmers' support". TCPalm.
- "Sugar sweetens campaigns of Brian Mast, Rick Roth in race to replace Patrick Murphy". TCPalm. April 22, 2016.
- Brufke, Juliegrace (December 4, 2020). "Five Republicans vote for bill to decriminalize marijuana". The Hill. Retrieved December 23, 2020.
- "Chairman Nadler Applauds Historic House Passage of H.R. 3884, the MORE Act" (Press release). Washington, D.C.: house.gov. December 4, 2020.
- LaVito, Angelica (July 23, 2019). "Nadler, Harris to introduce bill decriminalizing pot, expunge marijuana convictions". CNBC. Retrieved May 16, 2021.
- Sarlin, Benjy. "Kamala Harris teams up with Jerry Nadler on marijuana bill". NBC News. Retrieved May 16, 2021.
- "House Democrat purchased cannabis stocks while supporting legislation to decriminalize marijuana". Washington Examiner. February 24, 2021. Retrieved May 17, 2021.
- Sorkin, Andrew Ross; Karaian, Jason; Merced, Michael J. de la; Hirsch, Lauren; Livni, Ephrat (February 4, 2021). "It's Memes vs. Regulators". The New York Times. Retrieved May 17, 2021.
- Byrd, Caitlin (November 15, 2021). "SC Congresswoman Nancy Mace unveils GOP bill to legalize marijuana at federal level". The State. Retrieved November 15, 2021.
- Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster (October 8, 2016). "Brian Mast calls Donald Trump's comments 'inexcusable and disgusting'". Florida Politics. Retrieved February 18, 2017.
- "These are all the Republicans who don't want you to see Donald Trump's tax returns". indy100. February 28, 2017. Retrieved March 1, 2017.
- Mast, Brian (February 23, 2018). "I Appreciate Assault Weapons. And I Support a Ban". The New York Times. New York City. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
- Leary, Alex (February 24, 2018). "Republican, veteran and gun rights supporter Brian Mast says assault weapons should be banned". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
Congressman Brian Mast, R-Palm City, has as much authority on guns as anyone, having served in the Army and losing both legs in Afghanistan. He says assault weapons such as the AR-15 should be banned. "I cannot support the primary weapon I used to defend our people being used to kill children I swore to defend," Mast, who represents a swing district and faces a tough re-election, writes in an op/ed for the New York Times.
- Chivers, 1C. J.; Buchanan, Larry; Lu, Denise; Yourish, Karen (February 28, 2018). "With AR-15s, Mass Shooters Attack With the Rifle Firepower Typically Used by Infantry Troops". The New York Times. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
Representative Brian Mast of Florida, a Republican and an Army combat veteran, has called for a ban on the sale of AR-15-style rifles. "The exact definition of assault weapon will need to be determined," Mr. Mast said. "But we should all be able to agree that the civilian version of the very deadly weapon that the Army issued to me should certainly qualify."
- Gay Stolberg, Sheryl; Martin, Jonathan; Kaplan, Thomas (February 25, 2018). "Is This the Moment for Gun Control? A Gridlocked Congress Is Under Pressure". The New York Times. Retrieved July 9, 2018.
- Schmitz, Ali (February 16, 2018). "Florida school shooting: Rep. Brian Mast blames movies, video games for violence". Treasure Coast, Florida: TCPalm. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
- "Brian Mast's Voting Records on Issue". Vote Smart. ISPY. Retrieved February 23, 2018.
- Grinberg, Emanuella (February 21, 2018). "These Florida lawmakers accepted money from the National Rifle Association". Atlanta: CNN. Retrieved February 22, 2018.
- "How the House voted to pass the GOP health-care bill". The Washington Post. Retrieved May 4, 2017.
- "Health care vote puts pressure on dozens of vulnerable GOP reps". USA Today. Retrieved May 4, 2017.
- Schmitz, Ali (June 19, 2018). "U.S. Rep. Brian Mast's stance unclear on Trump's child-separation immigration policy". TCPalm.
- Schmitz, Ali (June 19, 2018). "Rep. Brian Mast's children threatened over Trump immigration policy; man arrested". USA Today.
- Griffin Connolly (April 5, 2019). "Mistrial for man who allegedly threatened Rep. Brian Mast's kids over immigration policy: Miami jury hung in case of 68-year-old Laurence Key". Roll Call. Retrieved April 7, 2019.
- "Florida Rep. Brian Mast opens office inside VA, thinks other lawmakers should too". Federal News Radio. May 3, 2018.
- Rep. Mast, a retired Army Ranger, to be evicted from office at VA after grilling officials, Joshua Nelson, Fox News, 12 Sep 2019.
- Mast letter to Secretary Wilkie, Document Cloud, 17 Sep 2019.
- Schmitz, Ali. "U.S. Rep. Brian Mast among 18 GOP representatives to vote against budget bill". TCPalm. Retrieved December 24, 2017.
- "GOP Starts the Tax Reform Process on Budget Vote in the House". Sunshine State News. October 5, 2017. Retrieved February 24, 2018.
- Almukhtar, Sarah (December 19, 2017). "How Each House Member Voted on the Tax Bill". The New York Times. Retrieved December 24, 2017.
- Bennett, George. "Trump in Palm Beach: President arriving on heels of tax bill victory". The Shiny Sheet. Palm Beach Daily News. Retrieved December 24, 2017.
- "Sgt. Brian Mast, wounded in Afghanistan, touched by president's thanks to military". Mlive.com. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
- Fins, Antonio (September 8, 2020). "When Jill Biden invited Brian Mast to 2011 State of the Union". Palm Beach Post. Retrieved October 10, 2020.
- "Another baby 'M' for Rep. Brian Mast". rollcall.com. Retrieved October 21, 2019.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Brian Mast.|
- Congressman Brian Mast official U.S. House website
- Campaign website
- Brian Mast at Curlie
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Profile at Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Legislation sponsored at the Library of Congress
- Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act