During a podcast four years ago, Oregon Republican House nominee Alek Skarlatos laughed at the idea of a woman being accidentally choked to death during sex.
Oregon Republican House nominee Alek Skarlatos has been facing criticism from his Democratic opponent and the press for his history of misogyny. In a new campaign ad, he tries to minimize his recent jokes about sexual violence as just a "a dumb mistake from years ago."
In his new "Dumb Mistake" ad, first flagged by the progressive blog Daily Kos, a narrator touts his Skarlatos' Army service; Skarlatos then makes excuses for his past behavior.
"When I got out of the Army, I said some immature and hurtful things that I deeply regret," he tells viewers. "It's not the man I am today. Career politician Val Hoyle can't run on her record. So she's slinging mud, hoping you'll hold a dumb mistake from years ago against me."
Skarlatos' Democratic opponent for the seat in Oregon's 4th Congressional District, state Labor and Industries Commissioner Val Hoyle, had released an ad that includes a clip from an appearance by Skarlatos in March 2018 on the "Drinkin' Bros" podcast during which he and the host had discussed and laughed about women being killed during sex.
In a video of the podcast described by the Oregon Capital Chronicle last month, Skarlatos, host Ross Patterson and two other men discuss their dating lives, laughing about women they have interacted with on dating apps and about what patriotic tattoos say about what women would be willing to do in bed. Patterson then asks, "You ever thought, like, if you choked someone and killed them in bed, what would happen?" Skarlatos laughed as he answers, "Oh yeah. Oh yeah."
As the conversation continues, Skarlatos says: "'Cause didn't that guy that killed that girl 'cause she, like, suffocated on his dick? He got off, in more ways than one, but he wasn't convicted."
The Chronicle noted Skarlatos' history, as recently as a few months ago, of liking Instagram photos of underage girls wearing bikinis.
The narrator of Hoyle's ad says: "Dangerous and degrading comments about women — that's Alek Skarlatos. Laughing about choking women to death during sex. … Making a joke about a woman who died from sexual violence and repeatedly liking photos of girls as young as 15 online. Alek Skarlatos should never, ever represent us."
In a statement sent to the Chronicle by his campaign, Skarlatos said: "Looking back at the comments I made as a 24-year-old who just left the Army, I’m disappointed. I apologize if I offended anyone. … To imply that a 'follow' or a 'like' of social media influencers on Instagram with over 100,000 followers is inappropriate is absurd."
Since losing a House race in 2020, Skarlatos has scrubbed his campaign site of his views on immigration and guns. While his old page boasted of the support of Oregon Right to Life PAC, his current website makes no mention of his anti-abortion rights positions now.
He has previously called himself "proudly pro-life"; told iVoterGuide that he agreed with the statement "Human life begins at conception and deserves legal protection at every stage until natural death"; and endorsed the Supreme Court overturning the Roe v. Wade abortion rights decision.
Hoyle, who is pro-choice, has been endorsed by Planned Parenthood Action Fund and EMILY's List.
The Cook Political Report lists the race as "lean Democrat."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.